Joint infiltration is simply the administration of a drug, typically an analgesic, at the site of the problem, which can be in the joint itself or in nearby areas. This procedure is used to reduce or eliminate pain in specific areas of the musculoskeletal system and achieve rapid recovery. The most common areas for joint infiltrations are the knee, hip, shoulder, lower back, hands, and feet.
Different liquid substances can be injected during joint infiltrations, such as joint components like corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid, growth factors, and platelet-rich plasma.
Why are they performed?
This procedure is indicated for rheumatological and traumatic diseases, especially for the treatment of bursitis, capsulitis, tendinitis, and enthesitis. It can be applied to the interior areas of large joint cavities such as the knee, wrist, or shoulder, as well as the surrounding tissues such as ligaments or tendons.
Generally, there are two main distinctions for joint infiltrations based on the type of disease: degenerative joint diseases caused by wear and tear, such as osteoarthritis, and inflammatory joint diseases where the synovial membrane is affected, such as arthritis.
Joint infiltration is recommended in cases of intense pain that does not respond well to oral analgesic treatment or rehabilitation and is localized in a specific region of the body, such as the knee or shoulder.
How are joint infiltrations performed?
Before proceeding with a joint infiltration, professionals explore non-invasive strategies to treat the condition, such as exercise, weight reduction, manual therapy, and medication. If these solutions do not improve the situation, the decision to proceed with the infiltration is made.
The procedure is usually performed with local anesthesia in the clinic itself, although in some cases, such as those performed in the spine, it may be necessary to perform them in the operating room. It is a simple technique that can be done on an outpatient basis, where only a space with aseptic conditions (hygiene conditions), the specialist physician, and the syringe with the medication are required.
The patient should rest the infiltrated joint for the first 24 hours and take the analgesic prescribed by the specialist. Applying local cold therapy during the first few hours is also important.
It is important to monitor the area where the procedure was performed. If there are any changes in joint color, fever, or intense pain, it is essential to consult the specialist.
How many sessions are needed?
It depends on the patient’s injury. If it is a small, short-duration, but very bothersome tendon inflammation, a single corticosteroid infiltration may be needed. However, if the diagnosis is knee osteoarthritis or a more advanced tendon injury, multiple infiltrations may be necessary. It is crucial to have a specialist physician who can guide you throughout the process and recommend the best treatment for your specific case.
The effect of this procedure is not always the same. In the case of injecting only an analgesic, it may last for days, weeks, or a few months with corticosteroids. However, if, for example, platelet-rich plasma is used, the effect can last several months or more than a year.
Remember that it is essential to be evaluated by a specialist physician before deciding to undergo any type of treatment. If you would like to schedule an appointment with me to discuss your case, please feel free to contact me.