Arthritis is a common condition that can cause severe pain and inflammation in your joints, leading to reduced mobility and even disability. According to statistics, over 52.5 million adults in America, which constituted 22%, live with arthritis and other rheumatic condition. While numerous treatment options are available, injection therapy has come out ahead in reducing pain and improving function.
In this brief overview, we will look at what injection therapy is? How it works, and the various types of procedures.
What is Injection Therapy?
Injection therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that involves injecting medication directly into the affected joint. This therapy reduces pain and inflammation through joint lubrication as a patient continues with physical therapy exercises and other everyday activities that stretch and strengthen the affected joint.
Types of Injection Therapy
Various types of injection therapy help treat different arthritis at different stages. These include:
These injections contain a combination of a numbing agent and corticosteroid or steroid that work as a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. The corticosteroid reduces inflammation and pain while allowing the patient to continue with physical therapy exercises and other activities that can help improve joint function.
Corticosteroid Injections offer fast, temporary relief within 48 hours and typically last for about a month. However, with a formula called Zilretta, you can get up to three months of pain relief from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee. The downside is that repeated cortisone shots may cause deterioration of cartilage and weaken ligaments and tendons around the affected joint.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
These injections contain hyaluronic acid, naturally found in the body for joint lubrication. Hyaluronic acid helps manage osteoarthritis in joints by reducing pain and inflammation while improving joint function. Hyaluronic acid injections can last up to six months but may require one injection for three to five weeks for full effect.
Hyaluronic acid injections are safe, well tolerated, and do not have as many side effects as steroid injections. However, they do have effects like pain, stiffness, and swelling in and around the affected joint. This therapy is best suited for patients with less severe and moderately painful OA that only requires maintenance.
Prolotherapy is an arthritis treatment involving a series of 15 to 20 monthly injections of an irritant into ligaments, tendons, and joints. The therapy employs the theory that the irritants injected stimulate local healing of the injured tissues. Prolotherapy has been in practice for approximately 75 years, with several controlled studies showing that it helps relieve stiffness and pain. This therapy is best suited for people whom weight loss physical therapy has not helped.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a new arthritis treatment that involves taking a small amount of the patient’s blood, spinning it in a centrifuge to separate the platelets and plasma, and then injecting this solution into the patient’s arthritic joints. The protein-platelets solution has immune-modulating anti-inflammatory effects thought to help relieve arthritis pain and improve joint function. PRP injections are a relatively new, promising therapy with rare side effects and concrete results.
Stem Cell Injections
Cellular therapy uses primitive cells that can develop into different types of cells. Injections of cells into arthritic joints aim to regenerate damaged cartilage and improve joint function. This therapy is still in its early stages, but there has been promising research on its potential to relieve pain and improve joint function in patients with arthritis.
Joint fluid aspiration is a procedure where a needle is inserted into the joint to draw excess fluid and ease pressure and swelling. Typically doctors will first inject local anesthesia to numb the joint and occasionally an ultrasound to guide the needle. This procedure is only for immediate relief and might need repetition if the fluid build-up recurs.
What to Expect from Injection Therapy
The type of injection therapy you receive will depend on the severity of your arthritis, your goals for treatment, and any potential allergies or reactions you may have to the substances used. In general, you can expect the following from any injection therapy:
- A physical examination assesses your overall health and the severity of your arthritis.
- A doctor’s overview of the procedure and what to expect during and after the treatment.
- A local anesthetic to numb the area around the injection site.
- The injection itself is usually quick and relatively painless.
After the injection, you will be monitored for any side effects and given instructions on caring for the injection site.
Injection therapy can provide significant relief from arthritis pain and improve joint function. The ideal injection therapy type for people struggling with arthritis are steroid injections, Hydrochloric acid injections, cell therapy, and Platelet-rich plasma (PRP). However, patients should be keen to work with a qualified healthcare professional to ensure they get the best treatment for their individual needs.
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