Understanding Joint Injections for Arthritis - Rheumatology Consultant London | Rheumatologist London | Dr Stephanie Barrett



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The most common type of joint injection arthritis patients have is a steroid injection. While steroids can be take orally they are often much more effective when injected into the effected area.

Steroids occur naturally in the human body, but artificially produced steroids can reduce inflammation too. They act like natural steroids and can ease pain and swelling. Steroid injections are often recommended for people with inflammatory arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Joint injections may also be a recommendation for osteoarthritis to provide additional pain relief.

How Do Joint Injections Work?

Your professional healthcare team will decide what mixture of steroids is best for your condition. Your rheumatologist will look at your symptoms and conditions closely to ensure the best possible mix and you may find you need blood pressure and blood sugar tests before any treatment is provided. Steroids can cause a rise in both, so it is important they are at acceptable levels. Dependent on where the pain and inflammation are, joint injections can be given as:

  • An intra-articular injection – directly into the inflamed joint
  • An intra-muscular injection – directly into a nearby muscle
  • A peri-articular injection – into the soft tissues around the joint

Like with all injections the process should be quick and easy. However, to ensure the best possible relief and results you may need an ultrasound scan. The option of a local anaesthetic is sometimes possible to ease the discomfort of the injection too.

Strenuous activities and exercise should not take place for the first few days after a joint injection. Resting for too long is also a bad idea, so it is important to stay mobile without over exerting yourself.

You may find it takes up to a week or longer for the effects of the steroid to take place but once they begin to work, relief from your symptoms may be as long as two months or even longer.

Opting for Joint Injections

For most people with an inflammatory arthritic condition, joint injections are a common treatment. If you are not sure about this type of treatment and want to discuss it in more depth, your doctor will be more than happy to do so. Going through the benefits and potential side effects can help you make an informed decision.