Cortisone takes two-to-three days to provide relief of neck pain, according to Everyday Health. However, doctors often inject a local anesthetic at the same time, giving the patient immediate pain relief while waiting for the cortisone to begin working.
Neck pain that has not responded to medication or physical therapy may respond well to cortisone injections, explains Everyday Health. Patients typically receive these injections as a stop-gap measure while waiting for surgery. The injections provide only temporary relief, and doctors may limit patients to a series of three shots. The most-common use of cortisone shots in the neck is to relieve radiculopathy, a condition in which pain and numbness extend from the neck down through the arm. After receiving a shot, the patient must take steps to rehabilitate the area while avoiding overexertion, or else the inflammation and pain may return.
Cortisone reduces inflammation in joints and nerves, which in turn relieves pain, according to Everyday Health. Cortisone is not an actual pain reliever, and it does have some potential side effects. These include cartilage and tendon damage, blood sugar elevation, infection, and a painful reaction known as cortisone flare. Additionally, patients with certain medical conditions should not get cortisone shots. It is important for patients to review their medical history thoroughly with their physicians prior to proceeding with an injection.