Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease. It involves a breakdown of the cartilage in the joints, which impacts the joint’s ability to absorb the shock of motion. As the cartilage wears away over time, an increase in friction causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of motion within the joints. The condition most often occurs in weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, spine, and hands. Certain risk factors linked to osteoarthritis include being overweight, getting older, joint injury or genetic defect.
Osteoarthritis can be treated with a variety of options including exercise, weight loss, physical therapy, oral and topical pain relievers, injection of medications into the joint, or the aspiration of fluids out of the joint. Surgery may be considered if other treatments are not successful.
Joint injections are a common course of action for those with severe pain or when other options do not provide sufficient relief. Injections may be given several times a year, but should not be overused. The two most common types of medications used for joint injections are steroids or hyaluronic acid. These injections can be administered by several types of doctors such as Orthopedists, Pain Specialists, Rheumatologists, Anesthesiologists, Family Practitioners and General Practitioners.
Relief from joint injections is typically felt within a few days following the injection and can last from as little as 2-3 weeks to up to several months. Shorter relief windows or ineffective pain relief can be the result of incorrect placement of the injection, an erroneous dose or a misdiagnosis. Some doctors will leverage ultrasound or fluoroscopy technology to provide guidance on the needle location within the joint as missing the area may result in an ineffective injection. Fluoroscopy is a type of x-ray that emits radiation upon usage so exposure to both patients and the medical staff needs to be closely monitored.