Joint injections for arthritis pain are a hot topic. If you have attended one of my educational seminars in the past, you may recall one of my opening remarks — that my goal is to keep you out of my office for as long as possible! That means we investigate several options to get you relief from you’re your joint pain before considering surgery. You want to keep your own joints as long as possible.
Joint injections of corticosteroids
One of the treatment options is injections of corticosteroids (also commonly known as cortisone). Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can reduce joint inflammation. Because the medication is injected directly into the joint, the effects of the medication are concentrated on the painful joint. The injected cortisone can bring the inflammation in the joint under better control and decrease the swelling and pain.
These injections involve putting a needle directly into the joint. Through the needle, I can remove excess synovial fluid (the lubricating fluid found in joints) and inject corticosteroid medication to help reduce the inflammation, pain, and swelling.
This process may sound risky. It is actually safe and fast. It involves little or no pain. And therapeutic injections have important benefits. They deliver the medicine to the exact spot that needs it. They also allow you to use lower and fewer doses of oral steroids, which are highly toxic.
Joint injections have few side effects
The most common side effect from injections is a temporary increase in pain and swelling. Rest, cold packs, and anti-inflammatory drugs help this pain go away within four to twenty-four hours. Studies have shown that about 6 percent of arthritis patients who receive injections in their joints experience this passing pain. It is probably caused by the body’s reaction to the corticosteroid crystals in the medicine. If you have problems with pain and swelling after injections, we may want to change the type of corticosteroid in your next injection.
Another fairly common complication is mild, temporary flushing (sudden redness of the skin) and agitation. Injections can also make diabetic symptoms worse.
There is a chance that the injection can introduce an infection into the joint. However, the odds of this are very slight. Studies show infections following injections happen from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 1600 times. Still, infections in the joint can be very serious.
Joint surgery is also serious! And it is sometimes recommended by other doctors before it is necessary! If you, or someone you know, have been told that “Based on your x-rays, you are bone-on-bone in this joint and you need surgery immediately,” be sure to get a second opinion. Joint surgery is rarely the first step toward relieving your pain. Call us at 239-596-0100 and together we’ll help you take the next step.
For more information on this subject, call The Zehr Center for Orthopaedics at 239-596-0100 or visit www.zehrcenter.com. The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments, or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of a visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read on this topic.