If you’re experiencing pain and your doctor recommended anti-inflammatory injections, you’ll want to learn more about them since there are several types for different conditions and pain areas.
Anti-Inflammatory Injections Explained
Most joint pain stems from inflammation to some level. Anti-inflammatory injections help reduce inflammation around and in your joints, thereby helping to reduce any pain you’re experiencing in your joints. Certain anti-inflammatory injections can ease the pain because they block enzymes that transfer pain signals (i.e., cyclooxygenases).
An anti-inflammatory injection can relieve nerves that send pain signals from compression or painful joints caused by arthritis wear and tear. Because these chemicals generally eliminate inflammation, they decrease heat, swelling, and pain. The used needle penetrates your joint or the area surrounding your nerve. This allows the medication to be delivered right where it’s needed. Anti-inflammatory injections can also help treat soft tissues.
Types of Different Anti-Inflammatory Injections
There are a couple of primary types of these injections which are:
- Injected into a joint (i.e., spinal joints, knee joints — intra-articular)
- Injected into a vein or muscle (systemic)
Let’s take a look at both of these injection types:
These are delivered to treat pain that radiates throughout the entire body. Because the medication is delivered into the bloodstream or muscles, the medication’s effects are felt everywhere. Ketorolac (Toradol) is a systemic anti-inflammatory injection that is commonly used. It’s a solid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that helps decrease inflammation. It also helps ease the pain as effectively as opioids but without harsh side effects.
These types of anti-inflammatory injections target specific types of pain. For instance, a doctor may infuse a combination of a corticosteroid (i.e., dexamethasone) and a local anesthetic (i.e., lidocaine) into the knee of an individual with severe knee osteoarthritis. Then, the drug goes to work right away to deaden the pain for hours or days. The corticosteroid decreases the pain and inflammation over weeks or months.
Common Pain Areas Injections Treat
Intra-articular injections can treat almost any body joint, from knees and hips to wrists, fingers, and ankles. When it’s hard to get to an area with a needle, the doctor can guide the hand to its accurate location by using a bedside ultrasound machine. The sites often treated with injections are the wrist, hip, knee, and spine.
When it comes to the spine, surgeons typically focus on the following:
- Facet joints between spinal bones
- Around the nerve roots
- The epidural area around the spine’
They can administer facet joint injections in the thoracic, cervical, or lumbar spines corresponding to the lower back, upper back, and neck. Sometimes, the area will be too small that the surgeon will need to use a fluoroscope (particular X-ray machine) to reach the exact location with the treatment needle. Sometimes, they may deliver a nerve block that temporarily deadens the nerve or the nerve plexus. A nerve block is frequently done so that individuals can engage in rehabilitation activities or physical therapy or help the surgeon diagnose the exact source of lower back pain or neck pain.
What To Expect With Anti-Inflammatory Steroid Injections
Anti-inflammatory steroid injections provide immediate pain relief to individuals by delivering anti-inflammatory steroid medications and a local anesthetic into the joint or area being injected. The different regions that steroid injections can benefit include:
- Soft tissues
- The spine: epidural space in the spine’s contact areas like the SI (sacroiliac) joints and facet joints
- Peripheral joints: shoulders, knee, ankles, hips, hamstrings, plantar fascia, elbows, and trigger fingers
Anti-inflammatory steroid injections work by reducing inflammation to eliminate chronic pain and regain your mobility and range of motion. Conditions often treated with steroid injections include:
- Bulging disc problems
- Chronic headaches
- Shoulder inflammation
- Knee pain due to joint degeneration, age, or injuries
This only touches on some of the conditions that anti-inflammatory injections help treat. Your doctor will advise on the best course of treatment depending on the reason behind your inflammation and pain.
Benefits of Anti-Inflammatory Injections
Not all individuals are good candidates for anti-inflammatory injections. You’ll sit down with your doctor and discuss your medical history and current health to decide if anti-inflammatory injections will benefit you for your condition. Some of the documented benefits of anti-inflammatory injections include:
- Prevent arthritic progression: Administering a replacement substance to a knee joint can assist in reducing further arthritis-related deterioration.
- Precise, localized pain relief: Injections can help target irritation in a single area/joint without impacting the rest of your body.
- Reliability: Injections work on individuals that typically don’t respond well to other pain relievers.
- Few, if any, side effects: You don’t have to be concerned about weeks worth of missed work like you would with surgical options.
- Long-lasting results: A single injection can last for weeks.
- Fast-acting results: There’s no need to spend hours in the office receiving treatment, and you experience immediate results.
- Restored range of motion: You can move more freely with the relief of inflamed nerves and muscles.
Just know that even though anti-inflammatory injections have several benefits, like with any substance delivered into your body, anti-inflammatory injections could potentially cause side effects. For example, ketorolac (Toradol) can be returned for no more than five consecutive days due to the potential side effects. Medication delivered directly into joints typically causes fewer severe side effects since they mainly target locally.
When it comes to anti-inflammatory medications injected into your joints, the problems are typically not caused by the drug but by the injection. Individuals who are administered an intra-articular injection have a risk for joint infection, bleeding, or joint damage. However, chances are much less likely to occur if a doctor helps with the injection with solid experience and training.
Speak with Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery in Florida About Anti-Inflammatory Injections for your Pain
If you are experiencing inflammation and pain in your joints, you should consult with one of our expert specialists at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery in Florida to learn more about how anti-inflammatory injections may be able to help. When dealing with chronic pain, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. However, our Orthopedic Laser Spine Surgery team has years of experience with individuals like yourself, and we stand by to help.