Several of the GPs perform injections for a wide variety of conditions affecting joints, soft tissues and nerves. These are accessed through in house referrals following a routine appointment assessment. Note the injection is not carried out in this assessment consultation.
Joint injections are used to treat a number of conditions that result in painful elbows, shoulders and knee joints, amongst others. The injection acts to reduce inflammation. This helps as the inflammation is considered to be the usual cause of pain. Joint injections involve injecting a mixture of steroid and sometimes a local anaesthetic into or around the joint. Like all injections, it can be a little painful, but the majority of patients tell us the procedure was much better than they had anticipated.
What to expect after the Injection.
First of all, you may notice a reduction of your pain lasting a few hours if local anaesthetic has been used. However, the discomfort increases after the next 24 hours before it begins to improve. This does not mean the treatment is not going to work but over the following six weeks you should notice a gradual reduction in your symptoms. The benefit usually lasts from a few weeks to several months. If you have not derived any benefit by six weeks, it is unlikely you will get further relief. Unfortunately, joint injections do not work for all patients, although most would be expected to have a very favourable outcome.
Is there anything that can go wrong after the injection (complications).
Complications are unusual, but do very occasionally happen. Serious complications (very unlikely) include infection (which can even more rarely destroy a joint), tendon rupture (needing surgical repair), blood vessel or nerve damage. A little dimpling or thinning of the skin overlying the injection site can also occur. It also possible for some people to have an allergic reaction to the steroid, and so you will be asked to wait in the surgery after the injection.
Although these are rare, you need to be aware of the risks and take this into consideration before embarking on this procedure. Complications are more likely after repeated steroid injections into the same area. We recommend limiting the number of injections into the same joint to three per year.
Should your joint become increasingly painful or hot, then contact your doctor immediately.
Do I need to rest after the injection?
Yes you should rest as much as possible for the first two days after an injection into a joint. This is especially important if a weight bearing joint such as the knee or ankle has been injected.
Should you have any further questions, please ask the doctor.