Wear and tear on your joints that leads to joint pain is inevitable for many of us as we age. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options that your physician may recommend. Physical therapy, oral medication and surgery are a few routes to take to recovery, but many patients have found ultrasound-guided joint injections to be effective. Here are a few frequently asked questions about the procedure.
What conditions can joint injections help?
A joint injection or aspiration is a procedure used to treat inflammatory joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, tendinitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
What happens during a joint injection?
A hypodermic (“under the skin”) needle, attached to a syringe, is injected into the affected joint, where it either collects joint fluid (aspirates), or delivers medication, typically a corticosteroid. An anti-inflammatory agent is injected to slow down the accumulation of cells responsible for the joint pain you may be experiencing.
Which joints are typically injected?
Commonly injected joints include the ankle, elbow, knee, shoulder, wrist, and the base of the thumb, as well as small joints of the hands and feet.
What’s the difference between an ultrasound-guided joint injection and a regular joint injection? Traditionally, joint injections are done without ultrasound. Based on the experience of the physician and the patient’s physical exam, the needle is directed in close proximity to the joint pain. But when a physician uses an ultrasound machine, he or she can visualize in real time where the needle is being guided. This can be beneficial to the patient because it allows the medication to be placed at the exact site of your pain.
Are there any risks of joint injections?
Ultrasound-guided injections can be used safely for most joints in your body, including those that cannot traditionally be reached, such as your hip or smaller joints. Occasionally, a patient may experience an allergic reaction to the medicine injected into the joint. Post-injection flare, or joint swelling after the injection, is a known, but uncommon complication of the procedure.
Ask your doctor if ultrasound-guided joint injections are right for you