You’ve probably heard of joint injections for pain management, but you may have questions about what exactly is involved in an “injection.” Corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid, and various anesthetics are all commonly used to provide joint pain relief.
What is a joint injection?
There are many types of joint injections. At Pain Management Associates at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute our joint injection offerings include (but are not limited to):
- Facet Joint Injection. Facet joints are the joints between vertebrae in the spinal column. Over time, it’s not uncommon for these joints to degenerate due to osteoarthritis and/or general “wear and tear.” A steroidal facet joint injection can provide substantial pain relief in just two to five days. Learn more.
- Sacroiliac Joint Steroid Injection. Also known as an SI joint injection, this treatment option provides pain relief for lower back pain and/or sciatica.
- Epidural Steroid Injection. This treatment option – not to be confused with the “epidural” many women receive during childbirth – is used to treat pain caused by inflamed and pinched nerves, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Learn more.
What does a joint injection treat?
A joint injection can be used to treat virtually any type of joint pain, whether caused by osteoarthritis, trauma, or overuse:
- Lower, mid, and upper back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Knee pain
- Hip pain
- Heel pain
- Tennis/Golf Elbow
Joint injections are typically used to treat localized pain. For example, a joint injection may not be the appropriate treatment method for back pain that “hurts everywhere.” But, if your pain management specialist is able to pinpoint the source of the pain through a diagnostic procedure like a medial branch block, then a joint injection might be the best treatment option.
How is a joint injection performed?
How your joint injection is administered will depend on the type and location of the injection. However, the goal is always to administer the most precise injection possible. Typically, this is achieved by using fluoroscopy (real-time x-ray imaging) or ultrasound to guide the needle placement. Virtually all patients receive a topical anesthetic and have the option of a sedative. Depending on the type of injection, you may also receive a local anesthetic beneath the skin.
How effective are joint injections for pain relief?
Success rates vary from patient to patient, as there are many factors that can influence outcome: physician experience, imaging technology, patient’s pain and health condition, etc. Most people, however, do experience some pain relief when their pain is properly diagnosed as joint pain and when the joint injection is properly administrated.
What risks are associated with joint injections?
All injections have a few risk factors, though these are usually quite rare:
- Allergic reaction to the contrast dye (if fluoroscopy is used for guiding needle placement) or steroid.
- Bleeding. Patients on blood-thinners may be advised to not have a joint injection, depending on other risk factors.
- Damage to nerves or spinal cord. This risk factor is extremely rare, but can occur.
- Infection. Minor infections are rare and severe infections are virtually unheard of, though they can occur.
- Temporary pain. In some patients, pain and discomfort may temporarily worsen due to the injection. Some injections take several days before they are effective.
Is a joint injection right for my joint pain?
Only a physician or pain management specialist can diagnose your joint pain. For more information about joint injections – or to schedule an appointment – contact Pain Management Associates at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute today. Pain management services offered in Mesa, AZ.