It is common to hear of needing a cortisone injection to manage pain, bursitis or inflammation in joints such as the shoulder, hips, or knees. However, current research is indicating that physical therapy or ‘conservative management’ such as exercise may be a positive alternative without potential side effects of steroids. In each case before any choice is made, there is a decision-making process with either your local G.P or allied health professional to discuss which options are best for you.

Clinical reasearch supports ‘Conservative treatment’ vs injections 

  • Conservative management shown to be superior to injections for improving pain & decreasing functional disability at 1 year in patients with Knee Osteoarthritis 
  • Exercise shown to be effective in improving pain and physical function in patients with knee OA
  • Potential side effects of corticosteroid injections especially if repeated in one location
  • Exercise is less costly and has additional physical and mental health benefits


The use of injections is still supported by best practice guidelines for the management of some conditions, however, is the efficacy behind it safe and practical for patients with knee osteoarthritis. In many cases the best first stage is a structured exercise regime, implemented by a health professional.  This can specifically target your needs and will require 6-12 weeks for best effects. If there has been no change since the implementation of the program in pain reduction or functional ability improvement, then cortisone injections could be an option at this timeframe. 

Discuss your options with your health professional to ensure that any decision is tailored to your specific needs and or symptoms.