WHAT ARE JOINT PAIN INJECTIONS?
As the name suggests, a joint pain injection involves injecting a combination of medications, including a corticosteroid mixed with an anesthetic, directly into the joint space. The corticosteroid acts as an anti-inflammatory, while the anesthetic alleviates any pain caused by the injection.
WHY HAVE A JOINT PAIN INJECTION?
A joint injection may be considered for patients in order to:
Relieve pain – The corticosteroid is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication, which can ease pain for months.
Diagnose the direct cause of pain – Injecting medication into the affected joint space can confirm or negate the joint as the source of pain. Pain that doesn’t respond to injection may be pain referred from a problem or disease originating somewhere else in the body.
WHERE IS JOINT PAIN INJECTION OFFERED?
WHAT TO EXPECT
Patients will have to bring someone with them to drive them home after the procedure. There is a possibility that a patient will be asked to stop taking blood thinners prior to the procedure. The area around the affected joint is sterilized. Your radiologist then uses a local anesthetic to numb the area of interest, and contrast material may be injected into the area to highlight its details. During the procedure, fluoroscopy (x-ray) is used to ensure proper placement of the needle and accurate delivery of the medication. Once the radiologist verifies that he/she is in the correct location, medication will be injected directly into the joint space. The procedure is usually over within 30 minutes, including preparation time.
After the injection, you may experience immediate but temporary pain relief from the local anesthetic. Steroids require a few days to deliver noticeable benefits – therefore, the pain may return once the anesthetic wears off, and usually subsides in a day or two. It is recommended that you take it easy the day of the procedure, and return to your usual activities the following day.
Pain relief varies from patient to patient, but is usually expected to last several months or longer. If needed, the injection may be repeated.