I am thinking about starting injection therapy for my arthritis. What do I need to know about this particular option?
Dr. Agnew says: Injection therapy can be an excellent conservative option for patients who suffer from arthritis but are looking to delay or postpone a possible replacement surgery.
For starters, there are two common types of arthritis injections: steroid injections and viscosupplementation. The goal of both is to reduce pain so one can resume physical therapy, exercise and other daily activities.
Steroid injections, also known as cortisone injections, reduce joint inflammation and ease joint pain. The injection typically relieves pain for 3 to 6 months. The pain may or may not return after that – every body responds differently. They are also more or less effective depending on the condition being treated and follow-up care.
Viscosupplementation involves injecting lubricating fluid into a joint, which is most commonly used to treat knee osteoarthritis. The goals of viscosupplementation are to facilitate better knee movement and reduce pain. After the injections, we recommend patients participate in gentle, progressive knee exercises to improve range of motion and develop muscle strength.
Injection therapy can be a smart and worthwhile option for patients who suffer from arthritis but who are considering nonsurgical options.
D. Kelly Agnew, MD, is a board-certified joint reconstruction surgeon at Tri Rivers. He treats hip and knee arthritis and performs total hip and knee replacement surgery, arthroscopic knee surgery and injection therapy for arthritic conditions.