Major Joint Injections

Treatment Information

What is a major joint injection?

A major joint injection is the injection of a small amount of local anesthetic and steroid into the joint capsule of a major joint using a needle. This may or may not be done under x-ray guidance.


Why is a joint injection performed?

As the body ages, the joints, particularly the major joints, can wear down or degenerate leading to osteoarthritis. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. A joint injection may be performed if you are experiencing any pain, stiffness, or swelling within a joint as a result of osteoarthritis.


Why would a joint injection NOT be performed?

A joint injection is not recommended if you have an active infection at the site to be injected, bleeding problems, fever, allergy to the steroid and local anesthetics, recent injection of steroid into the same joint area, and/or pregnancy.


What are the preparations for the procedure?

It is suggested that you wear comfortable clothing. You may or may not be required to have someone of age drive you home after the injection; your physician will notify you of this matter. You should take your regularly prescribed medications unless directed by the physician.


What happens during the procedure?

After the procedure and complications have been explained by the physician or physician assistant, an informed consent paper, (giving permission for the procedure), must be signed by the patient. Then, the area to be injected will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution, which is usually betadine unless you are allergic to this. The physician/ physician assistant will then inject the needle into the appropriate joint and inject a solution of numbing medicine and steroid. Keep in mind that some joint injections may be performed under x-ray guidance while others may be performed in the examination room.


How long does the procedure take?

A major joint injection usually takes between 1-2 minutes, unless the joint is severely affected with arthritis, making the injection more challenging.


What are possible complications from the procedure?

This procedure does come with risks. Complications that can occur include but are not limited to infection, trauma to the nerves, tendonopathy, and reaction to the steroid medication.


What are possible side effects of steroid medication?

Administration of steroid medication can cause side effects. Side effects can include but not limited to hyperglycemia, altered menstrual cycle, fluid retention, bruising, insomnia, sweats, hot/cold flashes, flushing of the face, weight gain, epidural lipomatosis, steroid myopathy, avascular necrosis of bone, osteoporosis, and Cushing’s syndrome.


What happens after the procedure?

The area is then cleaned, and a band-aid may be applied. You may experience numbness in the affected joint for a period of time. However, this will resolve. Shortly thereafter, you will be given discharge instructions and any follow-up information.


Important Notes

  • If you suspect you might be pregnant or know you are pregnant, please notify the physician or any staff member prior to any injection.
  • If you are a diabetic patient taking insulin or pills to manage your diabetes, the steroid used in the joint injection can raise your blood sugar level temporarily. You should monitor your blood sugar level closely after your injection. If your blood sugar level continues to be elevated then contact your primary care physician for suggestions on how to best manage this issue.
  • After the injection, you should resume your regular medications as you are prescribed if those medications were stopped before the injection.

* If you do not understand any part of the above material, please discuss it with your physician or physician assistant. *


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