Overview & Procedure
A joint injection is a minimally invasive procedure that reduces pain and inflammation in the knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, wrist joint, or other small joints. These injections contain anti-inflammatory agents called corticosteroids which reduces inflammation and pain. Joint injections are typically administered to patients suffering from degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Patients may experience pain relief for 3 to 6 months depending on their condition and severity of symptoms.
During the procedure, the surface of the patient’s skin is cleansed before a local anesthetic is injected into the affected area. After the anesthetic takes effect, the physician inserts a needle into the joint. A local anesthetic may not be used for small joints as it is up to the provider’s discretion. Once the needle is in the joint space, a steroid solution is injected to help relieve pain and inflammation. Ultrasound or x-ray guidance may be required for injection.
Immediately after the procedure, patients are sent to a separate room to recover. During this time, the patient’s vitals are monitored for any signs of an adverse reaction. After a joint injection, patients may experience a significant reduction in their pain symptoms. This is usually due to the anesthetic, and some pain may return after the numbing medication has worn off. Pain will begin to decrease over the course of several days as the steroids take effect. Patients will be given a set of aftercare instructions before being sent home. Some of these instructions may advise patients to avoid strenuous activities, bathing in a bathtub, or taking pain medications. Patients should report any signs of a fever, infection, redness, swelling, and increased pain to their Southwest Spine and Pain Center physician immediately.