An injection of a steroid or pain reliever into your knee, shoulder, or elbow delivers needed medication to the precise area where it is needed. The medication used may be more effective when injected as compared to medications that are taken orally. The procedure is quick and is performed on an outpatient basis. The medications are generally tolerated well. This type of care may be all that is needed to reduce your joint pain.
Uses for Knee, Shoulder, and Elbow Injections
A knee, shoulder, or elbow injection is used to treat dysfunction of the joint. Age-related wear and tear may cause you to lose some of the lubricating fluid in the joint. Bursae may also form in the joint. Some patients develop bony growths that interfere with the joint’s normal range of motion.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common reasons why an injection into the knee, shoulder, or elbow is performed. If you have an inflamed tendon from overuse or an athletic injury, an injection into the tendon can reduce inflammation and decrease the tendon’s chances of tearing or rupturing. These injections are also used to treat inflammatory disorders such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis.
Candidates for Knee, Shoulder, and Elbow Injections
You could be a candidate for a knee, shoulder, or elbow injection if other conservative treatments have not provided you with relief from your pain. Your doctor may recommend conservative, at-home treatments such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation when you have pain in the knee, shoulder, or elbow. You may also try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen sodium to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy might also be recommended. If you have tried one or more of these without relief, an injection of an anti-inflammatory medication and pain reliever is a natural next step.
You may also be a candidate for an injection of pain relieving, anti-inflammatory medicine into you knee, elbow, or shoulder if you experienced a sudden injury while playing sports or exercising. An injury from an auto accident or a slip and fall accident may also qualify you to have this procedure. In the case of an injury, you might have some imaging studies such as an X-ray done to rule out a fracture before the injection is performed.
How a Knee, Shoulder and Elbow Injection is Performed
There are several types of injections that your doctor may perform on your knee, shoulder, or elbow. One type is viscosupplementation. Viscosupplementation was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1997. It consists of an injection of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is naturally made in your body to lubricate the joints, but some people do not have enough.
Another type of injection is a steroid injection. This injection may include a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and swelling. These injections into your knee, shoulder, or elbow could also include a numbing or pain reduction drug such as lidocaine. To do the injection, your doctor will locate the space in the joint and your skin will be cleansed. The injection only takes a few minutes. The needle entry site is covered with a small bandage, and you can go home or back to work immediately after your visit.
What to Expect After a Knee, Shoulder, and Elbow Injection
After you receive a steroid or pain reliever through an injection into your knee, elbow, or shoulder, you should notice a gradual reduction in pain and swelling over the course of one to three days. During this time, you should avoid doing any strenuous activities that could aggravate the joint. This includes heavy lifting, intense exercise, or athletic training. Taking a break from vigorous activities helps your body to recover from the injury or problem that is causing the joint pain.
Your doctor may show you some stretching exercises that you can do. This helps to restore the full range of motion to your knee, shoulder, or elbow. We may also recommend a change in your exercise routine, such as walking or swimming for a few days or weeks instead of running or playing tennis.