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Musculoskeletal Services

Intra-Articular Injections - Injections into Joints

What is an intra-articular injection?

Injections into joints are intra-articular injections. If you have a swollen or painful joint your doctor may inject a steroid preparation into the joint. Sometimes your doctor will inject a local anaesthetic (painkiller) into the joint as well as the steroid.

Why does my doctor think I should have an intra-articular steroid injection?

An intra-articular injection is given to reduce inflammation and with it pain and swelling in the joint.

How quickly does a steroid injection take to work and how long does it last?

This varies between patients but improvement usually starts with 1 to 2 days. If helpful, the injection usually lasts from a few weeks to several months.

What is injected into my joint?

The preparations used are all chemicals related to cortisone, the original steroid preparation quantities of which are produced by the body itself.

Guided injections

The doctor may use an ultrasound machine to guide the injection into exactly the right place.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects are unlikely. Occasionally, the joint is worse after the injection within the first 24 hours. After that the joint normally settles. If the joint becomes more painful after this please contact the department, as this could be a very rare complication of the injection, an infection in the joint. Large numbers of injections into the same joint could cause damage to the joint.

Who will inject my joint?

A doctor or a specially trained nurse will do the joint injection

How many injections can I have?

There is no firm limit to the number of injections but your doctor will be keen to avoid repeating the injection more often than is necessary.

Do I need to do anything myself after the injection?

You should rest the joint after the injection for the first 24 – 48 hours especially after the knee or ankle have been injected.

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