Cortisone and other corticosteroids are used mainly in the treatment of deficiencies in the pituitary-adrenal complex. For example, they are used as replacement hormones in Addison's disease, and for people whose adrenal glands have been removed. They are also prescribed to reduce inflammation (swelling) in bronchial asthma, allergies, arthritis, and other connective tissue diseases. Other uses include therapy for some types of kidney disease, diseases resulting in inflammation of the eye, skin irritations, and some diseases of the intestinal tract. Glucocorticoids can be used in some types of cancer therapy, and the glucocorticoid prednisone is used with the drug cyclosporine to help reduce the body's immune response and prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
A small and very rare risk is that the injected joint becomes infected (1 in 15,000). Patients who experience a very painful, red, or swollen joint after injection should seek medical attention immediately. Thankfully, the most common cause of these symptoms is not a concerning infection but a reaction to the injected steroid (called steroid flare ) that occurs in 2-5% of patients. A steroid flare usually begins 6-12 hours after the injection and can last for 2-3 days. Regardless of the cause, it is important for patients with symptoms of infection to see a doctor because infections require immediate treatment.