Joint injections, also known as joint aspirations, can be performed in a doctor’s office or a specialized clinic, typically under local anesthetic. Sometimes, it may be necessary to have the procedure done at the hospital. The main objective of this type of procedure is to drain the joint of excess fluid that is causing it to swell. Joint injections can be done in the knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, wrist, thumb, or any of the small joints in the hands and feet.
The doctor will clean the area of the skin where the injection will take place to ensure there is no bacteria present before the procedure begins, and then inject the needle right into the affected joint. Sometimes the doctor will use hyaluronic acids and anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids, in order to slow down the cells that are causing the inflammation and pain.
There are two treatment options at this point: either the fluid is removed from the joint and sent to labs for testing in order to help the doctor determine the cause of the swelling, or steroids are injected into the joint to treat the inflammation and decrease the swelling and pain. In some cases, the fluid will be removed and steroids will be injected afterward. If the area where the swelling is hard to inject, like the hips, shoulders or jaw, the doctor may use ultrasound guidance or a special X-ray called a fluoroscopy. Sometimes, the doctor may use an ultrasound to aspirate or inject small joints as well.
Steroid injections often show vast and quick improvement in pain and swelling. These injections can be helpful for those who suffer from arthritis and is often part of the treatment plan for this condition. There is little to no risk involved with joint injections and joint aspiration.