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Peripheral Joint Injections

Peripheral Joint Injections

What is it?

The joints in your body, particularly your knees, hips, and shoulders, can become irritated and inflamed for a variety of reasons. Injecting a numbing medicine and steroid into the joint can decrease inflammation.

What is the purpose?

The medication injected, usually a steroid, is meant to reduce the inflammation and/or swelling of tissue in the joint space. This may in turn reduce pain, and other symptoms caused by inflammation or irritation of the joint and surrounding structures.

How will it affect my daily life?

You will need a ride home. We advise the patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure. You may want to apply ice to the affected area. Perform the activities as tolerated by you. Unless there are complications, you should be able to return to work the next day. The most common thing you may feel is sore joint.

What can I expect?

The actual injection takes only a few minutes. The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues. So, there is some pain involved. However, we sometimes numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle before inserting the needle into the joint.

You may experience a post-injection flare of pain which usually resides within a few days. Relief from injection can last up to 6 months or longer. Generally, up to 3-4 injections in a single joint should be performed in a year.

In a six to twelve month period, we generally prefer not to perform more than three injections. This is because the medication injected is meant to last for several weeks to several months. If three injections have not helped you much, it is very unlikely that you will get any further benefit from an increasing number of injections. Also, giving more injections will increase the likelihood of side effects from the steroids. If the injections are not working, stronger consider may need to be given to orthopedic surgery.

What are the risks and side effects?

Generally speaking, this procedure is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is pain - which is temporary. The other risks involve, infection, bleeding, worsening of symptoms etc. The other risks are related to the side effects of steroids: These include weight gain, increase in blood sugar (mainly in diabetics), water retention, suppression of body's own natural production of cortisone etc. Fortunately, the serious side effects and complications are uncommon.