Cortisone Injections and Insomnia


Physicians recommend cortisone shots to treat a number of conditions. Injectable cortisone is a synthetic product that mimics the natural steroid produced by the body’s adrenal glands. One surprising side effect of cortisone injections is insomnia that may last up to 48 hours.

About Cortisone Injections

The adrenal glands release cortisol when the body is under stress, and cortisone is a byproduct of this stress hormone. It reduces inflammation and helps the body with freedom of movement. The steroid lasts only a short time in the body as it is released into the blood stream and must travel to the location of the inflammation.

A doctor injects synthetic cortisone directly into the area of the inflammation, and the cortisone injection lasts longer. Doctors do not use the injections for pain, but rather to reuduce swelling and inflammation. Cortisone injections may treat a number of conditions:

  • Shoulder Bursitis
  • Trigger Finger
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Inflamed Joint Injuries

A physician or other licensed medical provider must administer the shot, and they may repeat the treatment as needed. An injection can be painful, particularly when directed into a joint. The size of the needle and the amount of cortisone can also influence the pain at the injection site. For painful areas, a doctor is likely to also administer a local anesthetic to ease the pain while the cortisone goes to work relieving the inflammation.

Side Effects and Insomnia

Few people experience an allergic reaction to cortisone injections because cortisone is a naturally occurring substance in the body. In some instances, the cortisone may crystallize and cause excruciating pain in the area, but this is rare. Other side effects include some irritation around the sight of the injection and insomnia.

So why does it cause insomnia? If cortisone reduces inflammation, why would a side effect keep a person awake? The adrenal glands are responsible for regulating the fight or flight response in the body. As too much stress can keep the body awake by exhausting the adrenal glands, so too can an injection of cortisone. This side effect keeps the body awake and the mind stimulated.

Synthetic cortisone, when injected, begins to work immediately and can help the affected area for weeks, but the byproduct associated with insomnia typically only last 48 hours.

What Can A Patient Do?

If you must have cortisone injections regularly and experience insomnia, avoid stimulants shortly before, during and just after the injection date. Reducing stimulants can ease the adrenal glands production of cortisol and adrenalin that will increase a body’s wakefulness. You should always notify the physician of adverse side effects, including insomnia with regard to your treatment.

Facts about insomnia can help you to develop a plan to deal with the side effect. Chronic insomnia is different from secondary insomnia associated with medicinal influence. Identifying the stressors associated with your insomnia can help you avoid those triggers particularly if they are affected by other environmental factors beyond your cortisone injections.

If you must have cortisone injections to treat a condition such as those listed above, and you suffer from insomnia as a result, you should consult with your physician about the type of cortisone used and whether you might change brands. You may also explore natural remedies to insomnia in order to get a better night’s sleep.

Cortisone Injections and Insomnia