Steroid injections are used to relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area of your body.
Steroid injections are used to relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area of your body. The injection usually includes a corticosteroid medication and a local anaesthetic.
They are most commonly given into the soft tissue near a joint. This may be the bursa, a tendon or ligament or an adjacent structure. The more common areas are the shoulder, hip, spine and wrist. Even the small joints in your hands and feet may benefit from steroid injections.
The appointment generally takes between 30-60 minutes.
You may need to bring someone with you to drive you home or arrange alternative transport as it may not be safe for you to drive for at least 20 minutes after this procedure.
Before your Procedure
PRIOR TO YOUR APPOINTMENT DAY:
There is no special preparation for a joint injection. You may eat and drink as normal.
ON THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT:
Please bring any previous radiographs (x-rays), CT, MRI and ultrasound scans taken as part of your joint pain history.
Please tell the radiologist if you are allergic to any medications.
It may be best to wear comfortable clothing with easy access to the part being injected.
An intravenous cannula is occasionally inserted.
A steroid injection is most commonly performed using an ultrasound machine to guide the injection. The technique varies depending on the area to be injected and the radiologist (specialist doctor) who performs the injection. Before the injection a preliminary scan is often performed to locate the exact point to be injected, and this may be marked on your skin. To prevent any infection, the skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
A needle will be placed into the area either at the point marked on your skin or using the ultrasound to see the tip of the needle as it moves into the joint or bursa. In some cases the radiologist may remove some fluid from the soft tissue or joint for analysis before injecting. A mix of steroid and/or local anaesthetic is injected into the joint or bursa.
For back or spine injections, a CT scanner is often used to accurately place the needle and inject the steroid and/or local anaesthetic.
The local anaesthetic will generally wear off after a few hours. Some people may feel instant relief while others may have more discomfort in the joint than before the injection. This soreness may last for 2-3 days after the injection. If a steroid injection is performed for pain relief, this should work within 3-5 days after the injection. If the pain becomes significantly worse following the procedure please contact us, your referring doctor or the emergency department of a hospital as soon as possible.
You are advised to rest the limb/area injected for 1 week. Dependent on your occupation you may require time off work or return on light duties, but we recommend you do not engage in strenuous physical activity that involves the affected joint for 2-3 days.