What Is a Joint Injection & Why Do You Need One?

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What is a joint injection?

Joint injections are primarily used to treat joint pain—as a temporary relief measure. It is a minimally invasive procedure used to help relieve joint pain that arises due to inflammation.

These injections are made of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone and methylprednisolone plus an anesthetic numbing agent like lidocaine. The intention is to directly deliver the pain-relieving medication to the joint and reduce inflammation simultaneously. The ideal candidate for such a treatment would be a patient not responding to traditional remedies like oral medication and physical therapy. 

This article will discuss how joint injections work, why they might be helpful to you and what steps you need to take after receiving this treatment 

Why do you need a joint injection?

Joint injections tend to serve two purposes: to relieve inflammation and pain associated with it and diagnose the source of the pain. More often than not, other factors might contribute to pain in the joints, but it’s not always due to inflammatory disorders. In such cases, joint injections are used to do two things at the same time—treat and diagnose.

They are performed on patients who suffer from inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, tendinitis, and other related diseases. The most common injection sites are the hips, knees, shoulders, elbow, spine, and wrist. In addition to acting as a pain reliever, it also helps in increasing the mobility of the joint—eventually allowing you to partake in physical therapy. At the end of it, it’s a temporary relief measure and acts as an additional option to aid primary treatments like exercise, medication, etc. 

What can you expect during the procedure?

Before the procedure, you will be required to go for a medical checkup by your doctor. They will check if you’re on blood thinners, medication/ supplements, etc. If you are, you’ll be advised on what to do next. 

The procedure is conducted using ultrasound or X-ray fluoroscopy technology for certain joints—they act as a guided measure to ensure precision in the procedure. The site will be numbed, after which you’ll feel slight pressure when the medication is being injected. 

You might experience some inflammation for 48 hours, and if you have diabetes, your sugar levels may increase—which is a normal reaction to the procedure. The expectation is that once the medication takes effect, the pain can be rid for a few months.

What can you do next?

After the procedure, it’s always recommended to rest and avoid putting any pressure on the injected site. Ideally, it may take up to one week to experience complete pain relief, so it’s essential to stay patient.

Once the effects set in, your doctor may recommend that you begin physical therapy to encourage more movement and flexibility in that region. For home remedies, they might also recommend at-home joint exercises to help recover.

Joint injections are an excellent option

for patients suffering from chronic pain and inflammation that cannot be taken care of by standard treatment measures. While there are risks such as bleeding, inflammation, and infection at the injection site, all these aspects are usually avoided with proper technique. If you have any more questions about treatment and management methods for joint inflammation, reach out to our physicians today.

St Paul Rheumatology