If you’re among the 30 million Americans who suffer from joint pain, you know how terrible it can be. It keeps you from exercising and makes everyday tasks seem hard. However, you may be surprised to learn that your doctor has treatment options beyond medications and surgery.
Whatever the cause of your joint discomfort, you’re probably curious about your treatment choices. While many believe surgery is the primary therapy option for persistent joint pain, various non-surgical treatment alternatives are available.
Depending on the intensity of your pain, joint injections may be an additional option for relieving discomfort and continuing normal activity.
What are Joint Pain Injections
Injections have long been used to manage musculoskeletal and sports injuries pain. Historically, injections were carried out by identifying markers on the body and merely touching a painful part to establish the proper position and region of discomfort to which the drug should be delivered.
Therapeutic injections are injected into the joint and tailored to alleviate inflammation and discomfort. Pain alleviation is practically instantaneous after injection into the affected joint. Along with giving instant pain relief, joint injections act as a slow-release medication, offering pain management many weeks or months following the first injection.
Joint injections are often advised for those who suffer from chronic joint pain because of the long-lasting impact on the affected joints. It’s also indicated for those who have tried and failed to control their pain with more conservative techniques, such as physical therapy.
However, physical therapy is often used with injections to preserve or enhance joint flexibility and stability. While physical therapy alone may not be sufficient to alleviate pain and inflammation, combining it with other treatments has been shown to have superior effects in certain cases.
Types Of Joint Injections
Joint injections are available in various types, which your healthcare provider may suggest based on your specific treatment plan. These are a few examples:
Corticosteroids, like cortisone, are administered directly into an inflammatory location. Cortisone is often mistaken for pain-relieving drugs due to its usage in treating pain. Despite this, cortisone alone is not a painkiller. The anti-inflammatory cortisone acts by blocking the formation of collagen.
The injection prevents collagen-generating cells in the tendon or joint from creating any more collagen. This effect reduces inflammation and relaxes neurons, resulting in an indirect reduction in pain. Moreover, remember that cortisone does not truly repair the underlying condition responsible for the inflammation.
Upon injection, cortisone starts to exhibit its effects right away. Despite this, the time it takes for people to get relief varies. Some individuals may experience results immediately, while others may experience progressive pain decrease over several days or weeks. Pain reduction may be less effective if the inflammation is significant or persistent and chronic at the time of therapy.
If successful, steroids may give instant pain relief for up to 6 months. Those suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from this temporary pain alleviation by engaging in physical therapy.
However, these injections are ineffective for everyone and may only provide short-term relief. Furthermore, patients are only permitted to have several injections in the same joint each year since cortisone may tear down soft tissues if used repeatedly. This may do more damage than benefit.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are made from your immune system’s platelets. These platelets are taken from a blood sample to produce the injection. This injection helps to promote healing by increasing collagen formation and altering pain receptors, which helps to lessen discomfort.
PRP injections are safe since they are made from the patient’s blood, and there are very few dangers or side effects. So it’s safe for most people to give it a go.
However, the manner PRP injections are prepared varies considerably. As a result, it is difficult for experts to assess its efficacy, even if it benefits everyone. Furthermore, since it is a relatively new therapy option for osteoarthritis, it is not currently included in mainstream treatment recommendations. It also may not be covered by insurance.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
A hyaluronic acid injection is used to alleviate joint discomfort caused by osteoarthritis in individuals who have previously tried pain medicines and other therapies that have failed to alleviate their symptoms.
Hyaluronic acid resembles a naturally occurring chemical found in joints. When you suffer from osteoarthritis, the fluid in your joints gets watery. This injection aids in the restoration of the fluid’s natural qualities while acting as a lubricant, assisting your joints in functioning correctly.
Injections are relatively safe due to the minimal risk of adverse effects. It may help those who haven’t had success with previous injectable alternatives or delaying surgery. However, if used repeatedly, it may become less effective in the long run as the joint degenerates more.
Placental Tissue Matrix (PTM)
PTM injections utilize placental tissue to assist the body in self-repair. After giving birth to a child, mothers can donate their placenta. Placental tissue has a high concentration of nutrients that aid in healing.
PTM is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a pain-relieving effect. Moreover, it aids in the reconstruction of injured skeletal structures and tissues.
Epidural injections are used to relieve spinal joint pain caused by an inflamed spinal nerve. These injections are performed using an anesthetic in conjunction with a corticosteroid. What distinguishes an epidural injection from a conventional steroid injection is that it is administered into the spinal canal located immediately outside the spinal cord.
Facet joint injections are a form of a spinal injection that may be used to treat pain in the neck and back, among other areas. The facet joints are small joints that link each vertebra towards the base of the spine. When these joints deteriorate or become damaged, injections are used to relieve spinal discomfort and pain radiating into the upper and lower part of the body.
Sacroiliac injections are like facet joint injections. However, they are performed on the sacroiliac joint. This joint connects the sacral area of the spine to the pelvis. This kind of injection alleviates discomfort in the sacroiliac joint and surrounding areas, such as the lower back, buttocks, and leg.
In general, sacroiliac joint injections are considered to be safe. The following are some of the potential risks associated with the procedure:
- Infection at the location of the injection
- Bruising and bleeding at the injection location
- Damage to the nerves
- Leg tremors and cramps
If you get a steroid medication as part of your sacroiliac injection, you may experience some side effects. These include brief elevations in blood sugar levels that last 1 to 2 days and an allergic reaction, among other things.
Expected Benefits of Joint Injections
Not all injections are guaranteed to be beneficial to patients. You may have to explore more aggressive therapies depending on the severity of your discomfort. However, many individuals who have had injectable treatment have had a pleasant experience.
In addition to alleviating your symptoms, you may experience the following benefits:
- Rapid relief
- Shorter process
- Absence of scars
- Less painful
- Minimal side effects
- Almost no downtime
Unfortunately, injectable treatments are only effective for a limited time period. In addition, you may be required to return for therapy every few weeks or months. Your doctor may consider pairing these injections with other treatments and supplements to provide you with the most effective pain relief possible for the longest time.
How fast does injection therapy work?
The time it takes for someone to notice a change after receiving an injection is dependent on the underlying condition and the kind of injection used. A typical steroid injection takes two weeks to reach its optimum impact. But hyaluronic acid injections may need between four and six weeks to achieve their maximum effect.
Injections of regenerative medicine, such as platelet-rich plasma, may take even longer to become completely effective, taking between two and three months on average.
How long does injection treatment last?
Joint pain injections have different therapeutic benefits depending on where in the body they are delivered and what sort of drug is used. For instance, the reaction to a cortisone injection may last from weeks to months. In contrast, a Hyaluronic acid injection for osteoarthritis may alleviate symptoms for roughly six months after administration.
In addition, each patient’s response to an injection differs, with some experiencing longer-lasting relief than average and others experiencing loss. Unfortunately, we can reliably foresee how long or to what extent a patient will benefit from a particular treatment. It is crucial to note that although injections provide effective but short relief from symptoms, it is equally necessary to address the underlying source of the symptoms.
Is injection treatment painful?
During the procedure, injections might be quite uncomfortable. The use of ultrasound during the injection helps to reduce the tissue stress that occurs. It is also common to provide anesthetic or numbing drugs during procedures to reduce the degree of pain connected with the treatment itself.
Patients may experience soreness at the injection site for a couple of days after injection, depending on how long the anesthetic has been in effect. In most cases, ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers are sufficient to alleviate the discomfort.
If you are experiencing joint pain, your doctor may prescribe a range of treatments to alleviate your symptoms. One approach is to have medicine injected directly into your joints. These injections may be particularly beneficial for those who have not had relief with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen or who cannot use such medications due to negative effects.
Moreover, each patient’s response to an injection differs, with some experiencing longer-lasting relief than others experiencing loss. If you want to know more about this treatment, you may contact our staff to book an appointment.