3 Injection Therapies That Help With Joint Pain

3 Injection Therapies That Help With Joint Pain

More than 30 million Americans suffer from joint pain. If you ever experienced joint pain, you understand how it can be debilitating and keep you from doing the things you love. Many people assume their only option for relief is pills or surgery. However, another treatment option is injection therapy, which has provided relief for many suffering from injuries or arthritis.

Some of these injections, such as corticosteroids, have been around for decades. But newer orthobiologics, like platelet-rich plasma (PRP), are newer and still being studied.

If you are having joint pain, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Your physician may refer you to a sports medicine specialist or orthopedist to best treat your pain.

“With so many options to treat joint pain, it’s important that your doctor understands your specific issue and constructs a treatment plan that best aligns with your goals,” says Dr. Michael Seifert, a sports medicine physician at UCF Health.

Corticosteroid injections

Steroid injection is usually the first treatment option doctors try when treating joint pain. Such an injection can provide pain relief for up to three months by reducing inflammation. This treatment can be used once for a short term issue that will eventually resolve or can be done multiple times in the same joint for chronic conditions like arthritis and gout. Most insurances cover the cost of these injections.

“Steroid injections are a way to try and reduce inflammation in your joints, which helps to lessen or eliminate the pain,” says Dr. Seifert.

Hyaluronic acid injections

Hyaluronic acid injections are a second option specifically for knee osteoarthritis (the wear-and-tear type of arthritis).  These injections can be used if steroid injections don’t work or help but are needed too frequently. Hyaluronic acid mimics the natural lubrication compounds in your joint and can thus reduce pain and increase mobility. After a single injection or series of injections, relief can last for up to six months. While insurance may cover the cost of these injections, there is usually a yearly limit on how many treatments are covered.

Platelet-rich plasma injections

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a newer injection therapy that is still being studied to fully understand its efficacy in treating pain.  With these injections, a small amount of your own blood is drawn and put into a machine to concentrate the platelets.  The concentrate is then reinjected into the body’s injured area.  Because it is your own blood being injected back into your body, the risks are very low. An ultrasound is used to precisely place the injection into the damaged area. The higher concentration of platelets is thought to accelerate your body’s natural healing. In fact, the injected PRP has a five to 10 time’s greater concentration of platelets. Early research is showing promising signs of PRP aiding in knee and hip arthritis, and may also be useful for soft tissue injuries like tendonitis and muscle tears. Because it is still being researched, most insurances won’t cover PRP injections, and you can expect to pay around $500 per injection.

All injections carry a small chance of infection and bleeding, and can include temporary pain at the injection site. Talk with your doctor about any risks that may be unique to you.

Patients with very advanced arthritis likely will not benefit from a steroid or hyaluronic acid injection.  Those who have a replaced joint or nearby hardware would also not be good candidates for steroid injections.

Injection therapy may help with your joint pain, but it is rarely done in isolation of other treatments. Patients who receive injection therapies are also usually prescribed physical therapy and weight loss which help in relieving joint pain.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice that is open to the community. We offer primary and specialty care under one roof from two convenient offices in Orlando. Learn more at ucfhealth.com.

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Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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