FAQs on Joint Injections in Atlanta

 


Joint injections are used for the localized pain and swelling associated with various forms of arthritis. These injections are not used to take the place of other treatments, but are part of an overall plan of arthritis care. Depending on your joint problem, the Atlanta pain doctor may recommend the injection of a corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid into the joint space.

What are the types of joint injections?

There are several types of joint injections: hyaluronic acid injections, corticosteroid injections, platelet rich plasma therapy and stem cell therapy. The type of injection you get depends on the form of arthritis, how the condition affects you, and which joint is diseased.

What do hyaluronic acid injections do?

Hyaluronic acid (Synvisc, Orthovisc, and Hyalgan) injections are used to replace lost synovial joint fluid. Synovial fluid is the substance inside the joint that lubricates and absorbs shock. With arthritis, there is less of this fluid in the joint, and replacing it with the injectable form improves the viscosity and allows for smoother movement and pain reduction.

Who is a candidate for a hyaluronic acid injection?

Hyaluronic acid injections are approved by the FDA for knee osteoarthritis. However, some doctors use them for the joint damage associated with other types of arthritis. These injections are used for people who are not candidates for joint replacement, those who want to delay surgery, or those who have a fear of surgery.

How many hyaluronic acid injections will I need?

The number of hyaluronic acid injections you receive depends the severity of your condition, the type of medication used, and the doctor’s recommendation. Orthovisc is given weekly for 3-4 weeks, whereas Hyalgan and Supartz are given in 5 weekly injections. Synvisc-One is a long-acting agent, given in one injection.

What do corticosteroid injections do?

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, and they are used to reduce the joint inflammation, decrease pain, and improve mobility. When a joint is injured, the body attempts to heal and protect it by increasing blood flow to the area and releasing immune system substances into the injured tissues. Corticosteroids limit the blood vessel dilation in and around the joint to reduce blood flow and decrease accumulation of cells associated with inflammation.

What are the types of corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids come in a variety of strengths. Injectable forms include triamcinolone acetonide, dexamethasone sodium phosphate, methylprednisolone acetate, and betamethasone sodium phosphate. The doctor may mix the steroid with a local anesthetic to provide immediate relief or to dilute the corticosteroid agent.

Who is a candidate for a corticosteroid injection?

Corticosteroid injections are used for short-term relief of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Conditions treated with these injections include frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, gout, bursitis, tendinitis, pseudogout, and trigger finger.

How is the joint injection performed?

Whether you receive a hyaluronic acid or corticosteroid injection, the goal is to position the needle into the joint space, which is between the ends of the bones. The doctor cleanses the skin with an anesthetic, and feels the joint to identify the right area for injection.

The doctor inserts the needle either using landmarks or image guidance with ultrasound or fluoroscopy. Depending on the circumstance, the doctor may aspirate the joint, drawing fluid out using a needle and syringe. A new syringe is attached to the needle, and the doctor injects the medication into the joint space.

Are joint injections effective?

In a recent study of more than 4,500 patients with knee arthritis, the injection of hyaluronic acid significantly improved functional ability and relieved pain. According to a Cochrane review, intra-articular corticosteroid injections are more effective than placebo for pain reduction, lasting up to 24 weeks.