Therapeutic Joint Injection
Therapeutic joint injections are a minimally invasive treatment option used to relieve pain caused by inflammatory joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and gout. Corticosteroids, used to reduce inflammation and minimize pain as a result, are injected into the affected joint. This medication only affects the targeted area and does not usually side effects in most patients. Joint injections are administered under local anesthesia and only cause mild, brief discomfort for patients.
What to Expect:
After local anesthesia, a needle is maneuvered into the area of interest under fluoroscopic guidance. Correct needle placement is confirmed by using a combination of imaging and injection of a small amount of iodinated contrast. A combination of a short-acting anesthetic, such bupivacaine, and an intermediate to long acting corticosteroid, such as triamcinolone, are then injected. The anesthetic can provide immediate pain relief lasting 4-6 hours while the corticosteroid takes effect approximately 1-2 days after the injection, reaching maximum effectiveness within 5-7 days. The duration of the pain relief varies depending on the severity and reversibility of the patient’s condition. If therapeutic effect is achieved, several injections per year can be performed with few long term consequences.
Our musculoskeletal radiologists are well trained in performing diagnostic and therapeutic injections of multiple joints including:
These procedures are done at our Blue Ridge, Cary and Cedarhurst facilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Joint injections are commonly performed to give pain relief of problematic joints. Typically a corticosteriod is combined with an analgesic for maximum effectiveness.
A radiologist will cleanse the area of interest, inject a local anesthetic and then insert an injection needle into the affected joint space. A slight amount of x-ray dye, or contrast, is injected to ensure correct needle placement. When placement is confirmed, the medications are injected.
No, you can resume normal activities to your degree of tolerance. Expect to have mild tightness or a full feeling in the joint space from the medications for a few days.
The length of time for relief varies from patient to patient, however many patients have discomfort relieved for up to 6-8 weeks.
No special preparation is necessary before joint injections. Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted.
You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies, especially to iodinated contrast materials. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.
You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation.