Knee Joint Injections

Knee Joint Injections

The knee joints connect the femur to the tibia and the fibula. The patella, or the kneecap, is the fourth joint that rounds out the overall knee joint. Tendons, cartilage, and ligaments connect the leg muscles to the bones surrounding the knee joint, as well as provide cushion and stability. Tears, inflammation, swelling, and excess fluid can all contribute to knee joint pain, which can result in a loss of mobility, injury, or disease.
Initial treatments options for knee joint pain include:

  • Staying off the affected knee
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • OTC medication
  • Wearing a knee brace
  • Elevating the knee
  • Physical therapy

If initial treatment options do not work and knee pain persists, knee joint injections may be the next best option.

Why Get Knee Joint Injections?

The most common source of knee joint pain is osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that transpires when the cartilage on a joint wears down and causes stress on the bone.
Knee joint injections serve as a precursor to knee surgery and can also be used as a diagnostic tool. Initially, when a knee joint injection is administered, a doctor injects an anaesthetic, a numbing agent similar to that used at the dentist’s office. The relief that follows allows doctors to determine whether or not the knee joint is the source of the pain.

Often Used to Treat:

Specifically, knee joint injections can help alleviate pain associated with:

Septic arthritis
Ligament or meniscus tear
Mechanical stress
ACL injury
IT band syndrome

What is the Process for Knee Joint Injections?

Knee joint injections are administered on an outpatient basis. A doctor applies a numbing agent prior to injecting an anaesthetic-corticosteroid mixture into the joint. A fluoroscopy, or live X-ray, may or may not be used to guide correct needle placement to avoid injury or nerve damage.
The initial anaesthetic injected into the joint provides instant relief, while the corticosteroid may take longer to go into effect. After the knee joint injection is administered, patients should ice the injection site and avoid rigorous activity up to 48 hours post-injection.

What Happens After Knee Joint Injections?

People sometimes report a flare in pain and swelling for up to two days following a knee joint injection until the steroid takes effect, and while knee joint injections are performed without incident, potential side effects that could occur include:

  • Skin discolouration
  • Nerve damage
  • Weakness
  • Tendon rupture
  • Thinning of the skin around the injection site
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction

Knee joint injections help to reduce inflammation and stop pain long enough to allow exercise or physical therapy to resume, which, in turn, can potentially yield more permanent results. If a corticosteroid knee joint injection does not work, the next step may be one of the following:

  • Hyaluronic acid injections
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections
  • Placental tissue matrix (PTM) injections

Knee joint injections typically provide pain relief for several days to six months or longer. They may be repeated but only for a limited time, as too many knee joint injections may actually contribute to the breakdown of cartilage in the knee.

Success Rates Associated with Knee Joint Injections

Knee joint injections are largely considered to be a safe and effective treatment option for joint pain. Reports indicate over 90% of patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis saw symptom improvement within two weeks. Evidence supports longer-term relief, as well, especially when accompanied by prednisone.

Dr.Raju Mantena
Dr. Raju Mantena is an anesthesiologist and pain specialist based in the Houston area and has over 15 years of medical experience which he relies upon each day to successfully treat his patients’ acute and chronic pain.

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