Joint injections are designed to provide symptomatic relief to one or more joints that are producing symptoms of pain for a patient. Understanding first how a joint works is important to understanding how an injection can provide relief. Joints are where two or more bones meet, and move against each other. The ends of the joints are covered in a material called cartilage, serving as a cushion between the bones during movement.
Surrounding the bones and their cartilage are numerous ligaments, tendons, and other muscle tissue that provide movement to a joint. Cartilage is typically lost over time as a natural degradation occurs, which can produce symptomatic pain once it was been worn away.
If one or more of the various tendons or ligaments are damaged, it can produce significant pain as well as a potential reduction in mobility of the joint.
Joint injections are a non-invasive option for providing symptomatic relief in a joint by lowering the amount of inflammation present, which can restore function and reduce the symptomatic effects.
Injections for Knee Pain
Primarily, symptoms in the knee will be the result of arthritic damage or from a direct injury. For patients who are suffering from arthritis, a corticosteroid injection can provide significant relief by introducing a steroidal supplement to the joint. These are effective for reducing the symptomatic pain of arthritis, and for restoring mobility to the knee. Other viable injections for knee pain include hyaluronic acids and regenerative medication injections.
Of particular note in regenerative injections is the Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection, which uses a small sample of the patients’ own blood to derive a therapeutic injectable. Platelets in the blood contain a large amount of healing factors, and PRP collects the platelets into a concentrated solution that can be injected into a problematic joint for significant pain relief and acceleration of the healing process.
Injections for Hip Pain
Symptoms in the hip are also typically the result of arthritic damage, which can produce symptoms of pain and limit mobility in a patients’ hip. The first thing to establish with a hip injection is whether the symptoms are the result of the hip joint itself, or the soft tissue surrounding the hip.
If the surrounding tissue is the symptomatic cause due to inflammation, a steroidal or hyaluronic acid injection into soft tissue can provide critical relief. If pain is being caused by the hip joint, injections directly into the joint can numb the area and provide relief. Hip injections can also be repeated as needed to maintain pain relief, and can delay or even prevent the need for hip replacement in the future.
Injections for Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is the most complicated joint in the body, as there are more components in this joint than any other. A patients pain has many more potential causes in the shoulder, and may be coming from the shoulder joint, the subacromial space (above the rotator cuff), the acromio-clavicular joint (where the clavicle meets the shoulder) or in any of the soft tissue surrounding these structures.
The therapeutic injections such as PRP available will differ based on what the root source of pain is. If the rotator cuff is the source of pain, a subacromial injection can be performed to provide relief. If arthritic inflammation in the shoulder joint itself is the cause of pain, a glenohumeral joint injection can provide relief. Hyaluronic injections have also been shown to be effective in the treatment of arthritic shoulder pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Injection
The sacroiliac joint is where the pelvis and sacrum meet, and is susceptible to arthritic damage as well despite having very little movement. Approximately 15 to 25% of patients with arthritis have pain due to their sacroiliac joint. An SI joint injection can provide significant relief to patients by introducing a large amount of steroids to the area.