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What Might I Expect From A Pain Injection?

08th, Jun 2022

Dr Roger Brown, Lead GP at Kingsbridge North West shares his advice around pain injections and what you should expect when you arrive for your appointment.

Doctors have been able to help people with pain injections for many years. These injections are of various types and for different reasons. People with chronic pain in a joint can have a steroid and local anaesthetic injected into a joint, or perhaps could have a simple local anaesthetic injection to allow a physio to be able to provide effective physiotherapy on, for example, a frozen shoulder. Or they could have a nerve block carried out to improve chronic pain where there has been irreparable damage to a spinal disc perhaps.

Some injections are very specialised and require to be carried out under Ultrasound or X-Ray guidance. Others can be done in a clinic setting. Specialist pain doctors, who are either Spinal or Orthopaedic surgeons, or Anaesthetists, run pain clinics to provide this kind of specialist injection, and this service is readily available at Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast. Simple injections are also available in Kingsbridge North West

Care is taken to 1. carry out injections using a sterile technique and 2. not to carry out steroid injections too often.

The rule of thumb is that a joint should not be injected any more often than every 6 months, but exceptions can be made for an injection every 3 months occasionally. A longer gap is better still!

Prior to surgery to replace a joint, there must be no steroid instilled into the joint for at least 6 months.

When you arrive at your appointment

When you arrive, please be prepared to be in the consulting room for 15-20 minutes and to have a brief physical examination if this is a simple joint (or trigger point) injection. Remember to wear appropriate attire for whichever part needs to be examined and injected (loose fitting clothing etc)

Your skin will be cleansed and the doctor will wash their hands and proceed with sterile gloved hands.

A small needle will be introduced through the skin and into the affected joint, or trigger point,  and, after ensuring that the needle is placed correctly, the doctor will instill into the joint a small volume of fluid which will contain both local anaesthetic and steroid of some sort.

Certain trigger points can also be injected. Trigger points are where a nerve is trapped, or a bursa has become inflamed etc. Inflamed tendons can also be injected with a degree of success. This is what happens when a “tennis elbow” or a “bony heel spur “ (or “plantar fasciitis”) is injected.

Pain injections are a pretty low risk strategy which can reap rewards in the hands of the right doctor.

The most common injections are to knees and shoulders (joints), and hip bursitis, tennis elbow, bone spurs on heels, and other various trigger points.

Trigger fingers and carpal tunnel syndrome can also be injected to provide relief from pain or triggering.

If you think you might benefit from a steroid injection, please ask your doctor. 

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