What Are Joint Injections?
Joint injections are injections into the painful joints. These injections can consist of steroids, Hyaluronic Acid (mainly for the knee), and platelet rich plasma (PRP). The main purpose of joint injections is to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint.
Commonly injected joints include the knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, wrist, base of the thumb, and small joints of the hands and feet. Hip joint injection may require the aid of an ultrasound or fluoroscopy for guidance. Some small joints may also be more easily injected with the aid of ultrasound.
The affected joint will be prepped with a cleaner and then using fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance, the provider will place a needle into the joint. Once the correct needle placement is confirmed the provider will inject one of the three options (steroid, Hyaluronic Acid, or PRP) listed above into the joint. The needle will be removed and the area cleansed.
Occasional side effects include allergic reactions to the medicines injected into joints, tape or the disinfectant used to clean the skin. Infections are extremely rare complications of joint injections and occur less than 1 time per 15,000 corticosteroid injections. Another uncommon complication is post-injection flare – joint swelling and pain several hours after the corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injection – which occurs in approximately 1 out of 50 patients and usually subsides within several days. Some patients may have a temporary increase in pain that can last a few days and is usually manageable with an NSAID, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.