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Joint Injection

What Is a Joint Injection?

Joint injections are performed in order to relieve pain and swelling in a joint. An anesthetic medication, a steroid medication, or both are injected into the joint using X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy).

Patient Education Video

How Should I Prepare?

You will be asked not to eat for 4 hours prior to the procedure. You may have clear liquids up to 2 hours before the procedure but should eat nothing after that.

If you are taking prescribed anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as Coumadin or Plavix, you should ask your physician for instructions prior to the procedure. Patients should not take over-the-counter aspirin or aspirin-containing medications for at least 5 days prior to their procedure. Please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before stopping ANY medications.

Please arrive for your procedure with a responsible adult who can drive you home.

What Should I Expect?

After you arrive for your appointment, you will be escorted to a procedure room, where you will be asked to change into a patient gown. You will be positioned on an exam table, and fluoroscopy will be used to evaluate the joint and determine the most appropriate needle entry site. The radiologist will cleanse the overlying skin, and a small amount of local anesthetic (lidocaine) will be injected with a small needle.  You will feel a tiny pinch similar to a pinprick while the anesthetic is injected.

After the area becomes numb, the radiologist will insert a needle into the joint while observing under fluoroscopy to ensure proper placement. A small amount of contrast material may be injected through the needle into your joint to confirm proper needle placement.  An anesthetic medication, a steroid medication, or both will then be injected into the joint.  The needle will then be removed.

The contrast agent that may be used is an iodine-based material. Radiology Ltd. uses only non-ionic contrast agents (the safest kind), but with all contrast agents there is always the potential for allergic reaction. Be sure to tell your technologist if you have experienced a reaction to CT contrast in the past.

For your safety and the protection of others, we do not allow anyone other than patients in our exam rooms.

Are There Potential Side Effects or Complications?

Significant complications related to joint injections are very uncommon. The primary risks associated with this procedure include bleeding and infection.

Most joint injections are very well tolerated, with minimal discomfort afterwards that is usually easily controlled with non-prescription pain medication. You may apply ice to the joint to reduce swelling if necessary. Symptoms usually disappear within 48 hours; contact your physician or healthcare provider if they persist for more than two days.

Meet Greg, Tucson resident

Approximately 5 million people in the US seek medical care each year for knee problems. Greg, like many athletes, had soreness and swelling in his knee. His doctor referred him to Radiology Ltd. for a joint injection in Tucson, and Greg felt improvement the very next day.