What is joint pain?
Joints are hinges between the bones that allow your body to move. Joints can be as small as a finger joint and as large as a hip joint. Joints are lined with cartilage and encased by a joint capsule which holds in the joint fluid in place. Joint pain can develop due to arthritis, trauma, and inflammation. People suffering from joint pain will often report stiffness and pain when moving the joint or weight-bearing. Sometimes joints can exhibit swelling, locking or giving-way indicating more severe damage.
What is a joint injection?
A joint injection is either performed to inject medication into the joint, and/or to remove fluid from the joint. We utilize imaging techniques, such as fluoroscopy or ultrasound to greatly improve our accuracy and improve your comfort.
What types of medications are injected into the joints?
We can inject a variety of medications into the joint. Most commonly, we inject a combination of local anesthetic and cortisone (a potent anti-inflammatory). Typically, these medications can significantly reduce inflammation and pain for weeks to months allowing you to return to normal activities or to start physical therapy sooner. Another type of medication that is injected into the joint space is called hyaluronic acid, known by commercial names as Synvisc™ and Euflexxa™. These medications replace the joint fluid that is normally lost due to arthritis and can help cushion and lubricate joints. More advanced types of joint injections include regenerative medicine injections which allow the body to heal.
What are some side-effects and potential complications with joint injections?
In the hands of experienced physicians, joint injections are quite safe and can be very effective. As with any injection, there is always a small risk of bleeding, infection or allergic reaction to the medication. When we perform joint injection, we use aseptic technique to decrease the risk of infection. Since bleeding is also a potential complication, occasionally anticoagulants may need to be held prior to the injection.
How long does it take to recover from a joint injection?
If you are feeling better after an injection, it is advised not to increase of your activity, until cleared by your physician. Your physician will often design and prescribe a rehabilitative program after a successful injection, so the muscles and supportive structures of the joint will be strengthened providing the best chance of a longer term result.