Cortisone Shot Cost

Written by: Staff

Cortisone shots, sometimes referred to as a steroid shot or cyst injection, often contain a corticosteroid and a local anesthetic to help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief for a variety of painful conditions such as osteoarthritis symptoms, as well as back, knee, hip and shoulder pain, to name a few.

Cortisone Shot Cost
The needle” (CC BY 2.0) by Dr. Partha Sarathi Sahana

How much does a cortisone shot cost?

The cost of a cortisone shot will depend on the reason for your visit, the amount used, your doctor and geographical region.

For those without health insurance, the costs can range from as little as $50 to $125 to treat deep acne, for example, to as much as $150 to $375 per shot to treat other parts of the body.  These estimates are for the shots only and would not factor in the doctor’s office visit examination fee and x-rays, a common test doctors want to perform as it make it easier for them to see the needle as they insert it.

Typically, an office examination fee, the x-ray (if needed) and one cortisone shot can cost a total of $550 to $850 without insurance.

Cortisone shots are typically covered by most private health insurance providers as long as your doctor deems it medically necessary, however, according to most policies, there can be restrictions.  Some plans, for instance, may say you can only receive a maximum of two shots and if not relief is felt, then you have to consider other options.  As all insurance policies will vary, it’s best to talk to your insurance company for more information to know what your policy may cover.

According to a forum member on this forum thread, they had a cortisone injection shot in their knee that cost $300 at their orthopedic doctor, while another had four shots in their lower back for $500.

The Cleveland Clinic notes that corticosteroid injections are often the first line of defense against osteoarthritis symptom and related joint pain in the shoulders, knees and hips, with the average shot retailing for $100.

Annie Tomlin at, who used the shot for her acne, paid $125 for her visit.

Prices found online...
$300 in cash at doctor's office
$249 cash for elbow injections without insurance coverage
4 shots in lower back for $500
2 shots in the knees for $1,800 at a hospital
$200 for a shot in the shoulder (included office visit fee)
$761 at orthopedist office after x-rays, office visit fee and two shots
$40 for the shot, but the total was $205 after office fee
$155 for one shot in wrist
$190 for one elbow injection
$455 for hip injection
$135 for shot plus another $150 for office fee

What is a cortisone shot?

The cortisone shot is designed to mimic the natural version of a synthetic steroid in a way the body produces in lower dosages to help heal injuries.  Not an anabolic steroid, meaning it will not have performance-enhancing properties, the shot, as mentioned, is typically mixed with a local anesthetic and injected into the affected area.  The shot is almost always administered inside your local doctor’s office.

The shot is often used to treat inflammation in small areas of the body, specific joints or in some cases, acne.  WebMD also notes that can help treat inflammation that relates to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis as well as allergic reactions.

The procedure

For acne, your doctor will inject the corticosteroid directly into your cyst, or as most people know it — a zit.  Within a few hours, the pimp will start to dwindle, and usually, after 24 hours, it should disappear completely.  Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may or may not numb the area before the injection, but according to Deven Hopp at, the procedure is relatively painless.  The whole procedure, in all, will take less than 15 seconds per injection.  After the injection completes, a band-aid is applied to the injection site and you’re able to go home immediately.

As for body joints, the procedure is the same as the acne, with the only exception that the injection is applied directly to the joints, providing relief within 48 hours.  For most, the relief can last several weeks or even months as the shot is designed to help reduce any inflammatory cell activity within the joints.  In some cases, however, a doctor may require an x-ray or ultrasound to help watch the needle’s progress as it enters your body in order to target the right spot.

Cortisone shot side effects

While rare, side effects do exist, according to the Mayo Clinic, including lightening of the skin, an infection, bleeding from a broken blood vessel, soreness at the injection site and/or an aggravation fee in the inflamed area due to the reaction of the medication.  In some cases, the tendons can weaken or even rupture.  For those who have diabetes, there have been reports the shots can raise your blood sugar, and if you do have an infection at the time of administering, it can take longer to recover.

Long-term side effects do exist and will greatly depend on the dosage and how often you receive the shots.  With frequent shots and higher dosages, side effects included the thinning of the skin, easy bruising, weight gain, puffiness in the face, a higher blood pressure and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)

Tips to know

To become effective, the injections, according to Golf Digest, take up to 36 hours before you feel its full effectiveness, and depending on the condition being treated, the injection can provide relief for weeks.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends no more than four shots within a 12-month period.

The Mayo Clinic mentions that these shots can cause the cartilage within the joint to deteriorate and because of this, doctors will often want to limit the number of shots into a specific joint, usually no more than three to four per year.

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