The aim of the procedure is to reduce inflammation and pain in the joint. It is hoped that this will give long lasting relief from your pain.
Your pain should be reduced and you should be able to move around more easily. It will be easier to perform your daily activities and the number of painkilling tablets that you need to take will be reduced. If successful, this treatment may delay the need for surgery on a painful joint.
Are there any alternatives?
By the time that you consider a joint injection, you should have already tried other more simple treatments. These include rest, painkilling and anti-inflammatory tablets, and physiotherapy with exercise.
You may also have tried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine for your pain. This works by sending soothing pulses across the surface of the skin and along the nerve fibres. The pulses prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. They also stimulate your body to produce higher levels of its own natural painkillers, called endorphins.
What if you do nothing?
If you do nothing there are several things that may happen:
Who should have it done?
The following patients should have the procedure done:
Who should not have it done?
Each patient has the final decision on whether to proceed or not. If you are unhappy about the procedure for any reason you should not continue.
There are specific medical situations when a joint injection should not be done and they are as follows:
When a patient is on medication that prevents blood from clotting, such as warfarin. This would lead to more bleeding than normal. It may be possible to stop the medication a few days before the procedure. This will need to be discussed with your doctor
When a patient is suffering from an illness that prevents blood from clotting, such as haemophilia. This would also lead to more bleeding than normal
When there is infection of the skin over the site where the needle needs to be put in. This could cause infection in the deeper tissues.
Author: Dr Sean White FRCA. Consultant in pain and anaesthesia
© Dumas Ltd 2006