Cortisone: The End Of An Era

Cortisone is a therapeutic drug used to fight ailments ranging from asthma to arthritis. It was the athlete’s best friend throughout the 20th century. But in orthopedics, there is a significant downside.

Cortisone is naturally produced by the adrenal gland in the body and influences the functioning of most of the body’s systems.

Since the discovery of its antirheumatic properties in 1948 and its synthetic commercial production soon after, the drug has been injected into every swollen joint, every inflamed tendon, sore back and aching body. The anti-inflammatory nature of the drug soothed the pain and reduced the swelling, yet permitted the athlete to further injure themselves time and time again.

We now know that a cortisone injection interferes with the body’s natural healing process, which works like this: When tissues are overused, overstretched or torn, the cells of those tissues release factors that recruit blood vessels, stem cells and healing factors. With that in rush of fluid, the tissue temporarily swells. Over time, with the laying down of new collagen — the protein that makes up most of our body — the injured tissue heals. Some tissues heal normally; others with scar tissue, over time, often can remodel into normal tissue.”The anti-inflammatory nature of the drug soothed the pain and reduced the swelling, yet permitted the athlete to further injure themselves time and time again.”

Cortisone shuts down this cellular recruitment process, reducing swelling, but unfortunately inhibiting healing. The result is that the weakened tissues stay in the weakened state for a longer period of time, sometimes exposing the athlete to repeat injury or permanent damage. This panacea drug has always had this hidden harmful risk. If used too often or in the wrong place such as the Achilles tendon, the tissues can completely rupture and never return to the full, uninjured state.

Read more at: Cortisone: The End Of An Era | Kevin R Stone

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