Painful joints, such as your ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine and wrist, even the small joints in your hands and feet may benefit from an injection into a joint. People with osteoarthritis in a joint that is causing them pain may be looking for a solution so they can get back to the activities they enjoy. If diet, exercise and over the counter medication is not helping, an injection may be the best short-term option. The injection does not treat the underlying cause of your condition, but treats the symptoms. Your doctor will talk to you about the most appropriate type of injection and dose for you. This will depend on your condition and symptoms.
What are Steroid Injections?
Corticosteroids are a class of synthetic medications that are related to cortisone, a naturally occurring corticosteroid hormone produced by your adrenal glands. The main benefit of a steroid injection is it offers quick relief for pain that is in just one body part by reducing joint inflammation and preserving joint function. In addition to osteoarthritis it can treat bursitis, tendinitis, gout and other types of arthritis. Steroids can be injected into the joints (intra-articular) or around the joints (peri-articular) or into soft tissue (tendon, muscle, bursa). The goal is to deliver the medication directly to the site where it is needed, reducing the need for systemic treatment (pills) that can cause long term side effects on your heart, stomach, kidneys and liver.
Steroid injections can take up to 5-7 days to take full effect. The duration of improvement varies. Some patients report months of relief where as others find only a few days of relief. It is best to rest the injected body part for 48-72 hours, as studies have shown that this may improve the effect of the injection and minimize risk of tendon damage. The number of steroid injections you can get in a year generally is limited because of the potential damage to the tissue in your body. It is important to let your doctor know if you are on blood thinners or have an infection. If you have diabetes cortisone injections can raise your blood sugar temporarily and must be monitored.
What are Hyaluronate Injections?
Hyaluronate injections may be known by their brand names, such as Synvisc, Euflexxa, Orthovisc etc. They are a viscosupplement that is used for treating osteoarthritis in the knee and contains a gel-like mixture from a substance called hyaluronan. It is injected directly into the knee joint and works by supplementing the fluid in our knee to help lubricate and cushion the joint. Its effectiveness varies from one patient to another, but can provide knee pain relief up to 6 months or longer. For best results you are recommended not to do strenuous or prolonged weight bearing activity for 48 hours.
Injections can be administered in our orthopedic clinic by your physician or physician assistant. In most cases the injection needs to be pre-authorized by your insurance carrier. Please speak to your provider, or your providers orthopedic assistant for more information on this process.