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.
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. The cost of these injections may be covered by insurance, but 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, the doctor draws small amount of your own blood and puts it into a machine to concentrate the platelets and re-injects it into the body’s injured area. Since the doctor injects your own blood back into your body, the risks are very low. The use of an ultrasound helps 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 times 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. However, most insurances don’t cover PRP injections since it is still being researched. 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.
Doctors rarely do injection therapy in isolation of other treatments. They also usually prescribe physical therapy and weight loss which help in relieving joint pain to those who receive injection therapy.
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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