Joint infiltration or joint injection is the injection of therapeutic substances directly into a joint. The substances administered are usually pain-killers, local anaesthetics and anti-inflammatory agents such as cortisone.
Inflammation and degeneration of the joints (osteoarthritis) often cause pain. Joint infiltration is an option for injecting drugs directly into an inflamed or damaged joint. In principle, this can be done in any joint. However, it is most commonly used for problems with the hip and knee joints and in the shoulder joint.
What preparations are carried out before the procedure?
Prior to joint infiltration, tests are conducted to determine whether the patient is allergic to the substance to be administered. Joint infiltration must, of course, be securely diagnosed/indicated beforehand. No other preparations are normally necessary.
How is the procedure performed?
The joint infiltration is usually performed on an outpatient basis. The therapeutic substance is injected as a solution into the joint using a syringe. The substances administered are pain-killers, local anaesthetics, anti-inflammatory agents and occasionally hyaluronic acid (joint lubricant). This involves first numbing the skin with a local anaesthetic. The needle is then pushed into the joint for the infiltration. X-ray or ultrasound guidance is often used to ensure the needle is inserted in the correct position. Once the needle is in the correct position, the drug is carefully injected into the joint. Patients often feel some pressure in the joint during the injection.
What is the success rate of this procedure?
The administration of pain-killers and local anaesthetics generally results in pain relief after just a few minutes. The effect of anti-inflammatory agents such as cortisone can be felt for the following 1 to 3 days. As a rule, joint infiltration can significantly alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis for several months. However, the treatment does not cure the osteoarthritis itself.
What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?
Joint infiltration is a low-risk procedure. It may occasionally result in bruising. Infection following joint infiltration is very rare.
What happens after the treatment?
No special follow-up treatment is necessary. Joint infiltration may need to be repeated after a time if the symptoms worsen again.