Knee joint injections
What are knee joint injections?
Knee injections are used to treat pain and inflammation involving knee ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. The type of injection depends upon the nature of the knee injury, and may be used to treat inflammation, inhibit the transmission of pain messages, promote healing, or to lubricate the joint. Types of knee injections include:
- Corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation
- Hyaluronic to lubricate the joint and control the pain of osteoarthritis
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) to treat pain and tendon thickening seen in professional athletes and physical laborers, as well as osteoarthritis, bursitis, and ligament injuries
- Nerve blocks, most commonly a saphenous block, especially helpful to patients who have been treated with a knee replacement
Who is a good candidate for knee joint injections?
Patients with damage to the musculoskeletal tissues of the knee who have not responded to initial treatments such as physical therapy, over-the-counter pain relievers, hot and cold application, and rest may find relief of pain through knee injections. Knee injections may decrease pain, promote healing, and improve quality of life in patients whose mobility has been compromised by injury or chronic disease of the joint.
Knee pain and inflammation may be caused by acute injury or chronic arthritis disease in the joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common, causing inflammation and degradation of knee cartilage over a long period of time. Acute or chronic inflammation of the knee joint may also be diagnosed as tendinitis, injury to the tendons caused by a twisting motion. The meniscus, a pad of cartilage cushioning the bones of the knee joint, is also susceptible to injury.
How knee joint injections work
Most often, knee injections are a minimally-invasive procedure performed outpatient in a doctor’s office or clinic. To begin, the patient assumes a comfortable position that gives the physician easy access to the injection site. The skin is cleaned with antiseptic, and the doctor may choose to begin by withdrawing fluid from the joint if swelling is present. A needle is then inserted to the joint and excess fluid pulled and examined. The removal of fluid often results in immediate relief of pain due to a release of pressure within the joint.
Next, another needle is inserted to the knee joint and medication is injected, along with a local anesthetic to provide immediate pain relief, while the other medication works on long-term pain relief. During the procedure, the physician may opt to use digital imaging to guide the needle to the proper location.