How often cortisone injections are given varies based on the reason for the injection. This is determined on a case-by-case basis by the health care practitioner. If a single cortisone injection is curative, then further injections are unnecessary. Sometimes, a series of injections might be necessary; for example, cortisone injections for a trigger finger may be given every three weeks, to a maximum of three times in one affected finger. In other instances, such as knee osteoarthritis, a second cortisone injection may be given approximately three months after the first injection, but the injections are not generally continued on a regular basis.
Using tritiated glycine (glycine 3H) as an indicator of amino acid incorporation in protein synthesis in cartilage matrices, Mankin and Conger injected hydrocortisone acetate into rabbit knees. Their data showed a rapid and profound decrease in glycine incorporation that appeared to depend on dosages. Maximum decline was seen six hours after the injection. 28 They did a similar experiment using glycine 14C as the radiotracer, which showed a definite decrease in the rate of protein synthesis within two hours of the injection. They noted that the rate of the inhibitory effect of intraarticular hydrocortisone on cartilage protein synthesis was about twice that of the observed rate for corticosteroids given by intramuscular route. 29 One year later, researchers injected hydrocortisone into normal rabbit knees and produced thinning of the cartilage, and the development of fissures and fibrillations in the articular cartilage. They also found multiple small white deposits within the substance of the articular cartilage, which were found to represent cystic areas of degeneration within the middle zone of the cartilage matrix. These effects were most marked in the animals which had the greatest number of injections. 30 Deleterious effects of cortisone were reported by some researchers who noted that the drug inhibited the synthesis and deposition of chondroitin sulfate in cartilage. 31-33