Overview & Procedure
A joint injection is a minimally invasive procedure that reduces pain and inflammation in the knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, and wrist joint. This treatment technique can also be used to treat pain radiating from small joints in the hands and feet. These injections contain anti-inflammatory agents called corticosteroids that help slow down the accumulation of cells causing pain. Joint injections are typically administered to patients suffering from degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Patients may experience pain relief for 6 to 12 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. 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 injections in the hip and shoulder. Patients are able to return home shortly after the procedure.
Immediately 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 & Pain Center physician immediately.