Is a Cortisone Shot for Plantar Fasciitis Right for You?

Cortisone Shot for Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is an extremely common injury that occurs in the plantar fascia muscle located on he bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is the wide, thick muscle that starts at the heel and ends at the base of the toes. This muscle is responsible for arch support. When this muscle becomes injured in some way, usually due to poorly fitting shoes, too much standing, or running and jogging, the result is plantar fasciitis. Luckily this injury is fairly easy to treat in a variety of ways. One of these ways is a Cortisone shot.

What is Cortisone?

Cortisone is a fast acting and powerful anti-inflammatory drug that can provide quick relief to a variety of injuries and maladies. Many people are using a Cortisone shot for plantar fasciitis. Cortisone belongs to a family of drugs called “Corticosteroids“. Corticosteroids are produced in the body’s adrenal cortex, which is located in the liver. Cortisone is a steroid that is legal in the US and can be taken in a variety of methods. Common methods include: orally, inhalation, skin cremes and injections. Because of the nature of Cortisone as an anti-inflammatory, it is not considered a performance enhancing drug and, therefore, is a commonly used treatment option amongst professional athletes and runners.

Quick Cortisone facts

  • Produced in the adrenal gland
  • Used to treat everything from skin conditions to plantar fasciitis
  • An injection can quickly reduce inflammation in the plantar fascia muscle
  • It is a common misconception that Cortisone is a pain reliever. Cortisone reduces swelling and inflammation which in turn reduces pain.
  • The benefits of Cortisone were mainly discovered in the late 1950’s by two chemists:  Edward Calvin Kendall and Harold L. Mason.

What to expect from a Cortisone shot for plantar fasciitis

Thinking of getting an injection to treat your plantar fasciitis? Here is what you can expect in most cases:

  1. Your doctor will clean the heel area of your foot with Betadine in order to sterilize it.
  2. Your doctor may numb the area to be injected with a numbing spray.
  3. Your doctor will add the Cortisone to a syringe.
  4. Your doctor will inject the Cortisone directly into the inflamed plantar fascia muscle.
  5. You may feel a small pinch when the needle is inserted, but most people report it to be surprisingly pain-free.
  6. You may experience a warm feeling in the area of injection. Many people report feeling a warm, flushed feeling in their face and chest as well.
  7. Usually, a cortisone shot for plantar fasciitis will begin to relieve the inflammation within a matter of seconds.
  8. Your doctor will advise you protect the area of injection for at least a day or two.

Side effects to Cortisone shot

There is no doubt that Cortisone works wonders on inflammation very quickly. However, it is more of a quick fix than a permanent solution to plantar fasciitis.

  • There is a risk of allergic reaction to Cortisone that can be quite serious.
  • Long term usage of Cortisone has been shown to degrade the surrounding cartilage of the injection site.
  • Cortisone can cause the tendon to weaken after extended use.
  • Damage to the nerves surrounding the area of injection can occur.
  • Cortisone can only be safely injected 3 to 4 times a year to avoid these side effects.

Is it right for you?

In the end, this is a question only you and your doctor answer together. Make sure you fully discuss all the risks and benefits associated with a cortisone shot for plantar fasciitis before you make your decision. It is our recommendation that a Cortisone shot should only be used when you have exhausted all other treatment options. If you have a race you just can’t let you plantar fasciitis make you miss than maybe an injection is right for you at that moment. Please keep in mind that this is only a quick and temporary fix to a larger more serious injury. If you’re looking to more permanent solution to curing your plantar fasciitis then we recommend a proper pair of shoes (see our top ten list here), a night splint, or a good pair of insoles.