Foot Health

Can cortisone shots help hallux limitus?


Hallux Limitus, a condition characterized by limited movement in the big toe joint, often leads to persistent pain and functional impairment. Among the diverse therapeutic approaches to manage this condition, cortisone injections are a common and effective option. This article delves into the benefits, procedure, and potential risks associated with cortisone shots in treating Hallux Limitus.

The Benefit of Cortisone Injections

Quick Symptom Relief

Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can provide rapid relief from pain and swelling in the affected joint. For individuals with Hallux Limitus, cortisone injections can significantly reduce pain during walking or other activities that put pressure on the big toe.

Complement to Other Treatments

Cortisone shots are often used in conjunction with other non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy, oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and the use of appropriate footwear or orthotic devices. By reducing inflammation and pain, the injections can make these other therapies more effective.

The Procedure of Cortisone Injections

How It’s Done

The procedure involves injecting cortisone directly into the affected joint. Before administering the injection, the healthcare provider will clean the injection site to prevent infection. They may also apply a local anesthetic to numb the area. Using a syringe, the provider will then inject the cortisone into the joint.

Frequency of Injections

The frequency of cortisone shots depends on the severity of symptoms and the patient’s response to treatment. However, there are limits to how many injections can be given in a certain time period due to potential side effects of repeated cortisone use.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

While cortisone injections can be highly effective in reducing pain and inflammation, they come with potential risks and side effects:

Short-Term Side Effects

Patients may experience a temporary increase in pain and swelling in the joint for 24 to 48 hours following the injection, a phenomenon known as a “cortisone flare.” Other short-term side effects can include infection, allergic reactions, and changes in skin appearance at the injection site.

Long-Term Side Effects

Repeated cortisone injections can lead to potential long-term side effects, including weakening or thinning of nearby bone, tendon rupture, and joint damage. For this reason, healthcare providers usually limit the number of cortisone shots a patient can receive within a specific timeframe.


Cortisone injections can be an effective tool in the management of Hallux Limitus, providing quick and substantial relief from inflammation and pain. These injections are often used in combination with other treatment approaches to maximize symptom management and improve function. However, it’s important to consider the potential risks associated with repeated cortisone use. As always, a thorough discussion with a healthcare provider is necessary to weigh the potential benefits against the possible risks and to develop an appropriate and personalized treatment plan.