Joint and soft tissue injections are shots with a needle into a joint (such as your knee) or a soft tissue space (such as the space between a muscle and a bone). The needle may be used to take out fluid or to put in medicine. These shots can be used to diagnose or treat many different conditions, including rheumatism, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis.
Anti-inflammatory medicines such as corticosteroids and pain relievers such as lidocaine are the most common medicines used for joint and soft tissue injections. Before getting an injection, it is important to tell your doctor if you are allergic to steroids or any other drug.
Your doctor will probably give you a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) before the injection so you feel very little pain. You may feel some pain after the anesthetic wears off. Hold ice on the area for 15 minutes several times a day or talk to your doctor about other ways to relieve the pain. He or she may recommend taking an oral pain reliever.
The most common side effects of joint and soft tissue injections are irritation and swelling of the tissues. This is known as a post-injection "flare" and may last up to 48 hours. Other possible side effects include infection, tendon rupture and muscle damage. In order to reduce your risk of infection, follow your doctor's instructions carefully and keep the injection site clean. Call your doctor right away if you notice any redness or swelling.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff