For people with recent musculoskeletal injuries or chronic pain, a joint injection can be a vital procedure for a few reasons. Joint injections not only help radiologists diagnose injuries and pathologists identify diseases, they also provide an alternative to medication and/or surgery for pain relief.
Joint injections can be utilized in a number of ways through diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, but they can be difficult to understand precisely because they are so multi-functional. So, before delving into the uses and benefits of joint injections, we’ll decipher what exactly they are.
What Are Diagnostic And Therapeutic Joint Injections?
Joint injections serve two primary purposes: the diagnosis of injuries, abnormalities, and diseases; and the treatment of chronic pain caused by the malfunction of a joint. To understand further, let’s break each of these up.
As you may know, it is common for an imaging procedure such as a fluoroscopy, an MRI or a CT scan to be accompanied by some contrast agent. The contrast agent “colorizes” the different structures in a person’s body and helps the radiologist better identify the different structures in the images, which often leads to a better diagnosis.
Diagnostic joint injections introduce contrast agents into affected joints, helping outline the structures within said joints such as ligaments, cartilage, joint capsules, and their abnormalities. This not only aids in diagnosing the imaging scans, it also helps increase visibility during arthroscopic surgery of a joint or musculoskeletal structure.
Additionally, diagnostic joint injections can be used to identify the degree of injury of a certain body part, such as the knees, shoulders, hips, etc. Contrast agents inserted through the joint injection can assess tears in ligaments and abnormalities that may be leading to serious discomfort.
Therapeutic joint injections are a minimally invasive pain relief treatment commonly used to relieve the discomfort caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, gout, and tendonitis. The joint injections provide direct treatment to the affected area, which offers more centralized relief and little to no side effects.
Therapeutic joint injections may require local anesthesia, which also functions as a pain reliever for the affected area until the administered drug begins to take effect. The administered drugs frequently consist of corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid (HA), and anesthetics.
Corticosteroids help reduce inflammation and slow the process of inflammation, while the hyaluronic acid encourages tissue regeneration of the affected cartilage.
Areas that are typically treated by therapeutic joint injections are:
Shoulder joint injection
Elbow joint injection
Wrist joint injection
Hip joint injection
Sacroiliac (SI) joint injection
Knee joint injection
Ankle joint injection
Foot joint injection
Benefits of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Joint Injections
In diagnostic medicine, joint injections provide for more accurate diagnosis and may help reduce the need for further testing. Joint injections offer the possibility of inserting contrast agents into specific joints for better identification of tears, and/or abnormalities.
In therapeutic medicine, joint injections offer pain relief for inflammatory conditions without the need for oral medication or surgery. Targeted pain relief makes it so the medicine only affects the specific area and produces little to no side effects. With a therapeutic joint injection, you can expect to feel the pain-relieving effects for about 6 to 8 weeks after the injection.
Giving you the best diagnosis and advising the best treatment options is what we do! While we understand that injections make most people uneasy, it’s important to understand why they are sometimes a part of imaging diagnostics and therapeutic treatments. Have any questions? Make sure to reach out to us or make an appointment!