The CDC recently conducted a study that displayed just how rampant joint pain is. Over one-third of adults reported some type of joint pain in just the preceding 30 days alone.
What is a joint?
Joints can be damaged in a variety of ways. A joint is the location where two or more bones come together. A joint is usually intended to allow for mobility, such as a knee or shoulder joint, although some are not intended to move, such as the skull or pelvis.
The ends of the bones are covered with cartilage, which is a dense, smooth, fibrous material designed to cushion the joint. The bones are joined together by ligaments, which are dense, elastic tissue that allow for joint movement. Over time, overuse, or with injury or trauma, the joints may develop issues and pain as a result (such as with arthritis or more commonly osteoarthritis). Joint injections may be recommended for pain relief and swelling.
How does arthritis affect a joint?
There are more than one hundred kinds of arthritis; the word arthritis translates to inflammation of the joint. The most common effects of arthritis are swelling, stiffness, and pain of the joints. Another effect of arthritis is the development of calcification on the bone ends in the joint which makes movement painful (Ankle arthritis: review of diagnosis and operative management 2014)..
What will a joint injection treat?
Joint injections are used to diagnose and treat conditions of the joint. Joint injections can help alleviate the symptoms of inflammation and injury to the joint or the help alleviate the inflammation and pain often associated with arthritis.
Conventional joint injections have consisted of cortisone medication. This steroid medication does not alter the course of the problem but has been very helpful for pain relief.
How do joint injections work?
Diagnostically joint injections work by confirming a diagnosis. If the injection is effective in alleviating the symptoms a correct diagnosis has been made. Further treatment can help with continued relief. Steroid medication provides pain relief nicely but does not fix “anything”.
Hyaluronic acid injections provide lubrication and material that is already existing in the natural joint. Regenerative medicine injections with platelet rich plasma therapy and stem cells offers pain relief along with helping heal the damage in the joint.
How are joint injections performed?
Joint injections are typically a simple outpatient procedure. The area to be injected is cleansed with an antiseptic solution and is often numbed with topical anesthetic, the needle is inserted and the solution (dependant on the procedure, usually a corticosteroid) is injected into the joint.
What kind of imagery helps?
Often in order to correctly diagnose a condition an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan of the joint in question will produce a clear image for the physician to study. During the injection itself, fluoroscopic guidance is often exceptionally helpful for accuracy. It’s a real time form of x-ray. Some Colorado pain management doctors will utilize ultrasound guidance which is also effective.
What are the risks associated with joint injections?
There are a few risks associated with joint injections, temporary swelling and tenderness of the injection site is the most common, there is a slight risk of infection, very light bleeding may occur. Soft tissue atrophy may occur from steroid injection and there is slight risk of tendon rupture if the steroid is injected into a tendon, but this is rare.
If the injection procedure is performed correctly the risks are very minimal. Most patients experience no negative side effects and reap only the positive benefits of the procedure. When steroid medication is used, the injections should only be received a few times annually.
How successful are joint injections?
Joint injections are typically very successful in treating many conditions affecting the joints. To find out if joint injection therapy could be right for you, discuss your condition with your Colorado pain management doctor.