Overview of Joint Injections

No one likes to hear that they need joint injections, but for people suffering from severe forms of arthritis, injections can bring real relief without the discomfort of joint surgery.

Broadly speaking, there are two major kinds of injections used: Corticosteroids, or “Viscocupplementation,” which means injecting lubricating fluid directly into the affected joint. Let’s talk briefly about the differences.

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Corticosteroids vs Viscosupplementation In Joint Injections

I – Steroid Injections

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammitants which reduce swelling when injected into arthritic joints. Much of the pain and inconvenience in both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) comes from increased blood flow to the area, along with side-effects resulting from a buildup of other fluids.

Regular cortisone is the usual choice here, but other formulations may be used, and could also include a local anesthetic like lidocaine for extra pain-relief.

Corticosteroids are effective on a wide range of arthritis-related problems, and carry very few side-effects for most people. However, they should be avoided by pregnant women, those on blood thinners and those who suffer from bacterial arthritis or diabetes.

2 – Viscosupplementation (VS)

For those with OA, specifically, who cannot use steroids, the other non-surgical option is viscosupplementation. Joint fluid contains a substance called hyaluronic acid, which is a lubricant and shock absorber. Since most of the pain of OA is caused by poorly-lubricated joints, this combats the symptoms.

There are a number of options on the market here, including Orthovisc, Euflexxa, Supartz, Hyalgan, Synvisc, and Synvisc-One. While the formulations vary, the only significant difference for patients is the number of injections required: From five weekly (Supartz and Hyalgan) down to just one (Synvisc-One).

However, the efficacy of vicosupplementation is mostly limited to symptom relief by increasing the lubricating fluids. It does exactly what it says, but nothing more. It’s often used in pre-op joint replacement candidates to keep them comfortable in the weeks or months prior to joint surgery.

Talk To A Specialist Before Deciding

Many factors can go into deciding which -if any- injection treatments would be right for your arthritis. Contact your doctor for more information about your options!

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