In the United States, 58.5 million people, around 24% of the population, suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is a leading cause of joint inflammation that can lead to joint pain.
Injury to the affected area can also increase stiffness and joint pain, which can interfere with your daily activities. Topical treatments and analgesics can only provide so much relief temporarily.
Joint injections may be a great option if you’ve tried other ways to treat your pain unsuccessfully. A joint injection can provide targeted long-term relief for joint pain.
But you may be wondering what types of joint injections are available and their benefits for pain treatment. To learn more about joint injections, their uses, and their benefits, keep reading below for further information.
Most joint injections contain a concentrated dose of cortisone. Cortisone is a powerful steroid. The steroids in these injections help send targeted inflammation-fighting medicine to the affected joint.
The cortisone reduces inflammation, which can lead to a decrease in overall joint pain. It is an effective form of pain management. A joint injection also contains a local anesthetic agent to help numb the area to reduce pain.
These two elements combine for long-lasting pain relief that can give you up to 6 months of pain management. It is recommended that you receive a maximum of 3-4 joint injections per year.
The types of joint injections available can vary based on the joint affected, any underlying conditions and your level of pain. There are 6 primary types of joint injections commonly given as pain management which we will discuss here.
An epidural steroid injection is used primarily to treat pain in the lower back area. This region is also known as the lumbar spine. Just as an epidural can help relieve the pain of a laboring mother, an epidural injection is a good option for those experiencing frequent acute or chronic pain conditions.
During the procedure, a small needle is placed into the lumbar region of the back into the epidural space. The medicine is injected into this area. Combining the corticosteroid with a local anesthetic reduces the inflammation and swelling in the area to take the pressure off the surrounding nerves and tissues.
This procedure is usually done as a same-day procedure at an outpatient surgery center. Patients can receive light sedation during the procedure to ease discomfort further.
Facet joints are small joints located between vertebrae in the back or neck along the spine. Facet joints contain a covering of cartilage that facilitate the range of motion and stability in the spine. When this cartilage wears off over time due to friction and use, it leaves these areas vulnerable and causes pain.
Again, facet joint injections involve administering a steroid and an anesthetic agent like Lidocaine. This procedure can take about 15 minutes in the office. It involves using a live x-ray device called fluoroscopy to direct the needle placement for the injection.
Joint injections involving the medial branch help to block the sensory nerve located there. The medial branch nerve signals to the facet joints and causes pain. The medial branch joint injection uses steroids and anesthetic medicine to interrupt these pain signals.
With the pain receptors in this area stopped, patients experience a pain-numbing effect. This effect is only temporary for a few hours but it can provide as much as 70-80% pain relief on average.
A medial branch block is also a useful diagnostic tool to determine if a patient will benefit from a more long-lasting pain management procedure such as radiofrequency nerve ablation.
Viscosupplementation injections are most commonly used to target knee osteoarthritis areas but can also be effective for other joints. Using these joint injections is a step in pain management for pain management when more conservative routes have failed. The procedure can be done in the office with an ultrasound to help with chronic knee pain.
Viscosupplementation joint injections can be used as a way to avoid surgery in knees with reduced natural joint lubrication and pain. It injects special gel-like natural protein materials into the knee joint. The gel material serves as a cushion inside of the knee to reduce friction and loosen up stiff and inflamed areas.
Hyaluronic acid joint injections are a special form of viscosupplementation injections. Hyaluronic acid goes by many brand names like Euflexxa, Synvisc, and Hylagan.
Ordinarily, your body creates hyaluronic acid in the joints and eyes. If you suffer from a condition like osteoarthritis, your joints are lacking this essential substance for lubrication. Receiving these joint injections replaces this vital fluid and helps reduce your joint pain and improves your range of movement.
The most common course of treatment is one joint injection per week for 3-5 weeks. These joint injections can be done in your pain management doctor’s office.
Corticosteroid joint injections are the most common type of joint injections. They use potent steroids to reduce areas of inflammation and discomfort in swollen, painful joints. These joint injections are best for small and specified areas of inflammation and pain.
Corticosteroids help treat a variety of inflammatory pain conditions and injuries. Common areas for injection include:
Patients receiving corticosteroid injections can receive several months to years of relief from their worst areas of pain, depending on their condition. Corticosteroid injections can be given in your doctor’s office and can provide almost immediate improvement in pain management.
Medication management can be a helpful tool for pain management, but if it isn’t enough, you may need to consider other treatment options. If pain is interfering with your ability to do your everyday tasks, you need to find the right care.
Arizona Integrated Pain Consultants wants to help you with your pain management needs. From chiropractic care to joint injections and pain medication management, we’re here for you. Come visit one of our three office locations to serve you in Mesa, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, AZ, to get your life back.
Contact us to schedule your pain management consultation today.