If it seems like just about everybody has some degree of joint pain, you’re not far off. About 70% of older adults (age 50-70) deal with joint pain, and most consider it a normal part of aging. However, aging doesn’t doom you to joint pain, and you don’t have to be an older adult to feel aches and pain in your joints.
The orthopedic specialists at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre in The Woodlands, Texas, want to bust the myth that joint pain is inevitable and untreatable. We help our patients understand the root cause of their joint pain and find effective treatments that enable them to live comfortable and active lives.
One such treatment — joint injections — offers instant and often long-lasting pain relief. Joint injections aren’t for everyone, though. Here’s a look at the different types of joint pain, which ones respond to joint injections work, and what you can expect if you opt for this treatment.
What kind of joint pain do you have?
If you’re like most, you probably take your joints for granted until they start bothering you. Behind the scenes, your joints work hard as the crucial connections between your bones that allow you to move, walk, sit, write, turn, bend, lift, twist, and stand. Unfortunately, as you age, your bones become more brittle, the inner tissues degrade, and your joints less flexible — a perfect recipe for joint pain.
Joint pain affects people of all ages, but the underlying causes are many and varied, including injury from accidents or sports activities, inflammation from arthritis or tendinitis, and degeneration due to wear and tear on the joints.
Imagine your joints as hinges on a door. Just like a door hinge needs lubrication to move smoothly, our joints need lubrication in the form of synovial fluid to function properly. However, when the hinge becomes rusty or damaged over time, it starts to creak or become harder to move. The same is true for your joints.
You can prevent degeneration and disease by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities that put too much stress on them. But if you have joint pain despite your best efforts to avoid it, we can help.
When to consider joint injections
In many cases, OTC medications are sufficient to subdue mild joint pain. But oral pain medications have to get through your digestive system before they get to your aching joint, and they have limitations. If you’ve discovered that through personal experience, you may be ready for a more targeted approach, like joint injections, that can offer more focused and localized pain relief.
Joint injections contain a combination of anesthesia and corticosteroid. The anesthesia provides immediate pain relief, while the corticosteroid reduces inflammation and promotes long-term healing.
Joint injections also come with a compelling benefit: They can delay or eliminate the need for surgery. For example, if you have a joint injury that requires surgery but can’t undergo the procedure right away, joint injections can keep you comfortable until you can.
Another advantage is that joint injections enable you to pursue more conservative treatments that help heal your joints. For instance, physical therapy can keep your joints limber and and promote healing and mobility, but if you can’t participate in the treatment due to severe pain, joint injections can clear the way, so you can.
However, joint injections also have limitations. They don’t provide permanent pain relief, and the effects may wear off after a few weeks or months. Additionally, joint injections aren’t suitable for all types of joint pain, such as severe damage.
If you’re not a good candidate for joint injections, we have other treatment options to address your joint pain.
What happens during joint injection treatments?
A joint injection is a straightforward and routine procedure. We simply insert a small needle into your affected joint, release the medication, and withdraw the needle. You may experience some discomfort or pain during the injection, but it’s usually brief and manageable. After the injection, expect some soreness or swelling in the joint for a few days. Ice and over-the-counter pain medication can help alleviate these symptoms.
In terms of recovery time, you may start to experience relief from your symptoms within a few days of the injection, but it could take up to two weeks to see the full effects. During this time, try to avoid strenuous activities and follow our post-injection instructions.
To find out if you’re a good candidate for joint injections, call The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre joint pain experts at 281-374-2273 or book an appointment online.