What are joint injections?
If you have a swollen or painful peripheral joint (such as the hip shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist, foot, and ankle) your symptoms can be relieved by injecting a steroid medication into the affected joint to help relieve pain, reduce the inflammation and improve the joint movement. Pain relief after an injection may last for several weeks to many months. The injections may be also repeated if our doctor deems them necessary, as the more long-term benefit may be obtained after subsequent injections.
Peripheral joint injections are performed as an outpatient procedure in our state-of-the-art facilities, with local anesthesia, and require no special preparation. A small needle is placed into the area using fluoroscopic guidance and confirmed with a small amount of radiographic contrast. The precise placement of the needle with imaging guidance allows our doctors at Southwest Spine & Sports in Scottsdale, AZ, to administer a small dose of steroid to the affected joint with minimal side effects.
AM I a Candidate for Joint Injections?
You may be a candidate for joint injections if:
- You have been diagnosed with arthritis
- Your disease hasn't progressed too far
Additionally, these injections can be provided for various areas of the body, including:
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What are Facet Joints?
Facet joints are located on the back of the spine on each side where one vertebra slightly overlaps the adjacent vertebrae. They guide and allow the complicated movements of the spine.
What is Facet Joint Syndrome?
Facet joint syndrome involves a constellation of symptoms resulting in diffuse pains that do not fit a clear nerve root pattern. These pains are typically worsened with cold, damp weather and movement of the spine, such as standing, walking, and turning in bed.
Why Inject the Facet Joint?
Facet injection is performed to help diagnose and/or treat pain related to disease or injury of the posterior joints of the spine. Injection of these joints is an accurate and definitive way to diagnose facet joint pain syndrome because certain joints may appear abnormal but not cause pain, and conversely, the problem joints may appear nearly normal.
What is the typical Joint Injection procedure?
You will be asked to lie nearly flat on your stomach. Under local anesthesia, using x-ray guidance, a small needle is positioned into the facet joint or along the facet joint nerves. A small injection of dye may be used to check the positioning. Medication is then injected (usually a mixture of anti-inflammatory steroids and long-acting anesthetic). Each injection takes about 15 minutes. Multiple levels on either one or both sides may be performed in the same session, depending upon your symptoms.
What will I feel during the Injection?
During the procedure, you may feel some slight pressure or discomfort. The doctor will be interested in how this discomfort compares to your usual pain symptoms.
What are the risks of facet joint injections?
As with any procedure, there are some inherent risks, although most of these are minimal. Common risks include but are not limited to bruising, bleeding, headaches, irritation of a nerve or nerve injury, including paralysis, numbness, and weakness. Risks also include infection or reactions to the medications, which may cause breathing difficulties and cardiac difficulties, which may lead to death. Serious risks and complications are extremely rare, however.
When will the Pain Relief take Effect?
You may experience numbness and/or relief from your spine pain for up to six hours after the injection. This is due to the long-acting anesthetic that was injected. Your usual symptoms may then return and may possibly be worse than usual for a day or two. The beneficial effects of the steroid injected usually require 2 – 3 days to begin, and it may take as long as a week.
If the injection blocked your pain effectively, but only for a short time, your provider may suggest additional injections or a procedure that offers more permanent relief, such as radiofrequency thermocoagulation.
How Joint Injections Can Help
This injection is often the first step in treating stubborn joint pain. It can be used to alleviate pain in the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, or wrist joints. Learn more by contacting Southwest Spine & Sports in Scottsdale, AZ, to schedule your initial consultation with our skilled team.