Many Americans suffer from chronic pain each and every year. In fact, some estimated suggest that around 30% of Americans suffer chronic pain, and almost 4 out of every 5 will experience back pain at some point in their life. This pain is often associated with arthritis, aka wear and tear in your joints. Osteoarthritis is a chronic and debilitating condition that can leave you unable to remain active and enjoy your everyday activities. However, a common and effective method of managing this pain is steroid injections. These are offered by many pain clinics across the United States. Many patients have questions about these injections and don’t want to have to fork out for the consultation fee just to know it’s not right for them. Because of this, we’ve put together a practical guide to the ins and outs of joint injections.
How are steroid injections given?
The steroid injection is usually given by a specialist pain doctor. Whilst it can be given by your local family doctor (if they have trained in this), it is often best to get it done by a specialist pain doctor who does many hundred injections a month. These specialists may also have tools available that many family doctors won’t have (for instance ultrasound which can help guide them into the correct space).
Injections don’t just have to be given into a joint, they can also be given into the spine or the blood or the muscle. The procedure will usually take a few days to kick in. This is because steroids work in a slightly different way than your over the counter painkillers. The act to stop the irritation of the joint slowly and at a “genetic” level. This painkilling effect will usually last a few months before it has totally worn off.
You will usually be able to come in, have the injection, and head home that day. This is not a big procedure and you will be able to go about your day as normal.
Are there any side effects?
There can be a few side effects – but these are relatively rare and usually not serious. Side effects include:
- Pain at the site of the injection
- Injection in the joint (as with any procedure involving a needle – there is a small chance of infection)
- You might notice a pale area of skin around the injection – this is rare, however.
- It may affect blood sugar control if you are diabetic, or blood pressure if you have high blood pressure. However, again these reactions are not common and usually not serious.
If you or somebody you know is suffering from chronic pain, whether that is from wear and tear arthritis or another chronic pain condition, get in contact with a specialist pain clinic as they may be able to offer joint injections that could drastically alter your quality of life.