A number of musculoskeletal problems ranging from arthritis to tendinitis can be treated effectively in certain circumstances with the injection of steroid and local anaesthetic into the affected area. As with all treatments there are pros and cons but in certain circumstances the administration of a local steroid can significantly improve the pain and swelling resulting from tissue inflammation.
Under aseptic conditions your doctor will perform an injection into the affected area sometimes with ultrasound guidance in the clinic. Often patients will notice an immediate improvement in their pain and swelling. Occasionally the joint can ache more than usual for a couple of days then as the steroid begins to act the swelling and pain should subside and medium-term relief of the symptoms is often appreciated.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What are the potential side effects?
As with all injections there is a small chance of introducing infection into the joint or area injected. There is a very small risk of nerve damage or bleeding and a very rare risk of allergic reaction.
2) Are there any downsides to having injections?
The injections, if repeated frequently over a number of years, can cause some minor damage to the cartilage within the joints which is why at One Orthopaedics, we would normally only recommend steroid injections as a short-term measure in most circumstances although it can represent a permanent treatment for some conditions.
3) How often can I have injections?
Injections can be carried out at different intervals depending on the area involved. There is often a law of diminishing returns however, with subsequent injections being less effective than the initial treatment.
4) Does it stop me having any other treatments?
It is important not to have major surgery such as a joint replacement within three months of a steroid injection in the same area as it can slightly increase the risk of infection post-surgery.