What is an Intraarticular Knee Injection?
Knee pain and stiffness can be disabling and difficult to treat. It can limit an individual’s lifestyle and negatively impact body image and emotional well-being.
A knee injection is a very effective form of treatment where medicine is delivered directly into the knee joint with the primary objective of relieving pain from conditions such as arthritis.
Knee injections are usually recommended when the pain has not responded to traditional conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, activity modification, or ice therapy.
Dr. Eccles offers cortisone (steroid) injections to his patients. While there are various other types of knee injections on the market today, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has developed guidelines based on scientific studies on these. They have shown that hyaluronic acid (gel) or any other forms of injections (ex. stem cells or platelet-rich plasma or PRP) are typically not as effective or recommended for arthritis treatment when compared to steroid injections, at least at this time.
Corticosteroids prevent the production of inflammatory cells that are naturally produced in response to an acute injury or arthritic conditions. Injections of corticosteroids can reduce inflammation in the knee joint which can lower the amount of swelling and pain.
Intra-articular knee injections are commonly indicated for inflamed knee conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Intra-articular intraarticular knee injections may be performed using various approaches into the knee joint. During the procedure, you will be seated or will lie on your back with the affected knee flexed or extended. The skin over the injection site is numbed with cold spray and cleaned.
The needle is inserted into your knee joint and the medication is injected. You may feel some mild discomfort during the injection because of the increase of fluid pressure within the knee.
A bandaid is then applied over the injection site and can be removed later that day.
Part of the injection contains numbing medication that starts working within minutes. Much like a dentist numbing your tooth, this may last a few hours. When this feeling goes away, you may have some pain again before the steroid portion of the injection starts to take effect. This may take a few days to a week!
There are no restrictions after getting an injection. Sometimes it is helpful to avoid strenuous activity for a few days. You may ice the area as needed.
Risks and Complications
Intra-articular knee injections are a relatively safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, there may be certain risks and complications such as:
- Infection at the injection site
- Skin reaction at the injection site such as bruising or pain
- Temporary raising blood sugar levels which require close monitoring for diabetics.
How often can I get them?
Depending on how your body responds and the severity of your condition, an injection may last from a few weeks to many months. The earliest you can get another injection in the same joint is in 3 months. They are safe if spread out this far apart. You must wait at least 3 months after an injection before surgical intervention (on that same joint) to decrease the risk of getting an infection.