In the early 1950s, the steroid cortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, was first synthesized and touted as the best thing since sliced bread. Athletes with chronic pain, from all over the world, started taking it, swearing that it got rid of all their injuries and thus boosting their athletic performance in the process. Quarterbacks, runningbacks, free safeties, strong safeties, and even kickers were calling it the catholicon for dealing with nagging injuries, chronic pain, and even minor strains. Cortisone shots became one of the preferred treatments for overuse injuries of tendons, like tennis elbow, which had been notoriously resistant to treatment.
But all this changed when the early clinic trials were published in 1954. People now started to doubt cortisone. All of a sudden a complete 180 had taken the sports medicine world by storm. Half of the world was totally against cortisone, the other half, hailing it as the best thing ever. No American, or any denizen on the face of this earth, had seen such a polarization in sports medicine. In that experiment that rocked the world, over fifty percent of the patients receiving a cortisone shot for tennis elbow or other tendon pain suffered a relapse of the injury within six months. Just six months! This came as an incredible surprise, as every doctor in the west promised that the pain would go away forever – even pointing to scientific studies that made the case even more robust. All that was quackery. Just a marketing ploy to get people to bite. People who were suffering and desperate to find an immediate fix to their debilitating problems. The paradox that flummoxed even the most rational minds in the west was the following: the cautionary experiment that pointed to the deleterious effects of cortisone did nothing to slow the amounts of cortisone use in the western world. People were actually more committed to taking cortisone. Now, whether it was because the studies made cortisone more known, or whether people wanted to give cortisone a try to get empirical evidence, that, we will never know. We cannot go and talk to each and every person who lived in the 50s. Many of those folks are gone. But here is what we can do. We can take what we’ve learned from the past and build on it. We can gather the knowledge that has been validated by some of the most respectable health experts in the field of health and medicine, and we can conduct further scientific studies to become even more knowledgeable and informed about cortisone and the effects it has on the body. It is interesting to note that today, cortisone shots remain a standard way to treat chronic pain. People with back pain take them. People with neck pain take them. Even people with minor hip pain take them. Athletes frequently request cortisone shots as a quick and easy way to get rid of pain. Antonio Ramiro Romo took them. Brett Favre took them. Felix Jones took them. Big Ben Roethlisberger took them. All the famous, high performing athletes have taken them. And this is a problem. Why? Because the youth thinks that if its okay for the best of the world, then it must be okay for me. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our chiropractic clinic has concluded that, over all, individuals who received cortisone shots had have a much lower rate of full recovery than individuals who did nothing or who underwent physical therapy. They also had a sixty-five percent higher risk of relapse than folks who adopted to take matters into their own hands and get active and go to physical therapy. The shots are counterproductive. They give one the illusion that the body has recovered. No. That is not the case. One is just numbing the symptoms. You may ask, “What’s wrong with that?” What’s wrong is that by numbing the pain, and continuing to exercise and put strain on your body, you will only further aggravate the injury, making it even worse in the long run. Cortisone is just a short term fix that makes things worse in the long term. If you are Antonio Ramiro Romo, and you have an injury, but you want to play in the Superbowl, then, sure, take Cortisone. Take it if you want to win the Superbowl, if you want to be a champion and have your face plastered on every cereal box across the coast. That we can understand. But to take Cortisone for anything else would be foolish. A huge mistake.