Q: What is an Intra-Articular Joint Injection?
A:Injections into joints (ie. hip, shoulder, wrist) are intra-articular injections. If you have a swollen or painful joint your doctor may inject a steroid medication into the joint. Sometimes your doctor may inject a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) along with the steroid.
Q: Why Should I have an intra-articular steroid injection?
A: The steroid injection is given to decrease pain and swelling in the joint.
Q: How long does it take the steroid injection to work and how long will it last?
A: It varies between people; improvement usually starts within 1 to 2 days. If helpful, the injection usually lasts from a few weeks to several months.
Q: What is injected into my joint?
A: The steroid medications are related to cortisone, which is produced by the body itself. The purpose of the injection is to calm down the excessive inflammatory process that may be going on because of injury, excess use, or similar problems. Cortisone injections can also be used for diagnosing some conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist ligament tears, etc. The form of cortisone that I use is called triamcinolone acetonide. It has the longest duration of action and the greatest potency of the cortisones. The most likely side effect is decrease of skin pigmentation in a region about the size of a dime or a quarter. This is not permanent, but may last up to a year. A: Are there any side effects? Side effects are very unlikely. Occasionally, the joint is worse for the first 24 hours after the injection. After that the joint normally settles. If the joint becomes more painful after this, please call 718 687 2010 as this could be a sign of infection (a very rare complication). A large number of injections into the same joint may cause damage to the joint.
Q: How do I do it painlessly?
A: I put fast acting numbing medicine in the shot.
Q: What is it?
A: Lidocaine (a numbing medicine) that I have specially buffered (made the pH the same as the body’s) to take all of the sting out of it and to speed up how fast it works. The Lidocaine usually is effective in one to two seconds. Amazing, right? This way, you do not feel the long acting numbing medicine or the steroid medicine, which is actually the medicine that does the job.
Q: How many injections can I have?
A: There is no firm limit to the number of injections. However, the effect tends to decrease with repeated injections. There could also be problems from a large number of injections into the same joint.
Q: How often can I have an injection?
A: There is no firm rule about this, but your doctor will want to avoid repeating the injection more often than is necessary.
Q: Do I need to do anything myself after the injection?
A: You should rest the joint after the injection for the first 24-48 hours, especially after the knee or ankle has been injected.