The treatment of joint inflammation and pain often includes the use of cortisone injections. Joint injections have been a remarkably effective adjunct to pharmacologic and physical therapies. They provide great benefit to a patient’s recovery and quality of life. Joint injection can be used in various conditions, including but not limited to arthritis, trauma, connective tissue disease, degenerative joint disease, tendonitis, bursitis, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, subacromial impingement syndromes, rotator cuff tendinopathies and other miscellaneous inflammatory conditions.
Inflammation serves a purpose when our bodies are reacting to trauma or disease but sometimes it can get out of control. Initially, the inflammatory process causes specialized cells to surround the traumatized area and start to remove damage tissue and begin the healing process. However, the process can become counterproductive when too much swelling occurs from the influx of specialized cells. Too much swelling can impede blood flow to the area and debris can harden and form scar tissue that eventually interferes with normal function.
The corticosteroid that is often used in joint injections works as a potent anti-inflammatory, aimed to decrease swelling and facilitate proper healing and restore function. Joint injection can also serve as mechanical disruption of scar tissue as well. Often, a series of injections will be required to reduce the inflammation and restore function of the joint. As mentioned above, the use of corticosteroid joint injections are most effective when combined with other pharmacologic and rehabilitation measures, such as the administration of NSAIDs, exercise, stretching, and the employment of treatment modalities such as ice and/or heat. Joint injection with corticosteroids is a relatively safe procedure that can be administered by specialists and general practitioners alike.
Therapeutic injection with corticosteroids should always be administered by a trained and experienced medical provider and only when steroids will clearly help the situation. Improper or indiscriminate use of corticosteroids is likely to have undesired outcomes if not used judiciously. Joint injections should never be administered without diagnostic definition and a specific treatment plan in place. When done properly and for the right purpose, joint injections can provide significant relief from pain and much needed restoration of function.