If you suffer from chronic joint or back pain and are finding it difficult to make it through your normal daily routine, steroid injections may be a minimally invasive option that can improve your condition. These man-made drugs are very similar to our natural cortisol hormones but are different than what some athletes have used. These injections are referred to in several ways, including:
Regardless of their name, the desired result is the same: easing of painful inflammatory conditions.
When you receive a steroid injection, it is normally an in-office (outpatient) procedure, depending on the type of injection you receive. It will be administered by a physician and involves injecting a combination of steroid and pain relief medication directly into the troubled area of your body, like your lower lumbar or knee joint. Your doctor may target the epidural space itself or administer the shot near a nerve space believed to be causing your discomfort.
You can expect your doctor to numb the injection site before performing the procedure, and the use of ultrasound or fluoroscopy may be necessary for precise needle placement.
Many patients will feel some pressure during insertion, and if you feel any discomfort, your physician can take extra steps to alleviate it. Once completed, you may feel immediate relief at first because of the injected anesthetic, but a temporary increase of inflammation is not uncommon for a few days afterward.
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The primary purpose of any steroid injection is to ease pain by injecting anti-inflammatory medications into the troubled joint, muscle, or nerve. On its own, this treatment will not prevent or heal the targeted health issue, but it will make it possible to continue additional treatment options like physical therapy.
Your doctor will determine what injection type benefits your condition the most to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Here are some of the most common targets for steroid injection therapy:
Epidural steroid injections target the small canals where your nerve roots exit the spinal column and extend throughout your body. Many times, these tiny tunnels begin to narrow over time due to spinal stenosis, adding pressure to the nerve and causing low back pain, like sciatica.
If you suffer from tendinitis or bursitis—inflammation of the tough fibrous tissues that connect your muscle to your skeleton or the fluid-filled sacs in your joints—a steroid shot may help calm painful flare-ups due to overuse injuries or trauma from an accident, like whiplash.
Cortisone is sometimes injected into a joint to calm inflammation related to arthritis. Common targets are the knee and the facet joints in the spine.
As mentioned earlier, using steroid injections to ease inflammation can make it possible for you to progress further in a treatment plan that will help you manage or eliminate your chronic pain.
Like many steroid-based injections, the duration of pain relief is case-by-case. Your discomfort should remain reduced for a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of your condition and other factors that your doctor may diagnose. It’s not uncommon for some patients to receive a course of SI treatments a couple of times a year, but the more frequently you receive them, the shorter their effectiveness lasts.
Your doctor wants to provide you with the best long-term pain management solution to treat your spine or joint conditions effectively. When you go in to receive your steroid injection, you can expect additional care instructions to help maximize the benefit of your pain relief. Many treatment plans for spine and joint conditions require a comprehensive approach that may include any of the following:
If you are generally in good health and only suffer from a case of tendinitis, you may only need a local steroid injection for life to go back to normal after additional rest. But for those with ongoing conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, steroid injections may be just one facet of your treatment plan.
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Steroid injections are a treatment option for patients suffering from chronic pain related to joints, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. While inflammation can occur anywhere in the human body, some health conditions can increase the need for a steroid injection when other conservative treatment options have failed.
These conditions include:
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, you likely experience pain and inflammation in multiple areas of your body as a result. While many of these conditions will cause lumbar discomfort, you may also feel pain, numbness, tingling, and inflammation in the following areas:
While most patients will have no issue receiving a steroid injection, some health conditions may not interact well with this treatment. If the inflamed joint or muscle group has an infection, or if you are fighting an illness elsewhere in your body, you may not qualify for a steroid injection.
Additionally, joints that are severely damaged usually do not benefit from these injections, and your doctor will likely prefer to pursue other treatment options for your pain. Patients who are currently taking blood thinners or have a bleeding issue may also not qualify, but this decision is ultimately up to your physician.
Finally, your doctor will perform steroid injections sparingly if you need them multiple times throughout the year. Typically, patients do not receive more than three or four treatments in a year to avoid weakening cartilage or bone further in the affected area.
Living with daily discomfort in your lower back or joints can be a debilitating experience if left untreated. Speak with the board-certified medical experts at NJ Spine & Orthopedics today about your condition and learn more about steroid injection relief. Our office only uses state-of-the-art equipment and procedures to help bring you a quicker recovery.
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