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Joint Injections

What is a Joint Injection?

A joint injection is a shot of medicine into a joint. The medicine helps relieve pain and inflammation. It can also help diagnose the source of pain.

What happens during the procedure?

For this procedure, a health care provider inserts a needle and injects medicine into the joint. Dr. MineHart uses a real-time x-ray (fluoroscopy) to see where to place the needle in the joint. You may be given medicine to help you relax.

  • You will lie on the x-ray table, and the injection site will be cleaned.
  • A numbing medicine will be applied to the injection site.
  • A small needle will be guided into the joint area while the provider watches the placement on the screen.
  • Once the needle is in the right spot, a small amount of contrast dye is injected so the provider can see where to place the medicine.
  • The steroid medicine is slowly injected into the joint.

After the injection, you will remain on the table for another 5 to 10 minutes or so. Dr. MineHart will then ask you to move the joint to see if it is still painful. It may be a few days before you notice any pain relief.

What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?

Blood plasma is the liquid component of blood that makes up about half of its total volume. Blood plasma that is rich in small cell fragments called platelets can be used to treat a number of musculoskeletal conditions. Platelets circulate in the blood of all mammals, and contain many growth factors that are known to stimulate the growth and healing of both bones and soft tissues. Osteoarthritis is one of the major conditions treated by platelet-rich plasma therapy. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that involves the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Platelet-rich plasma can also be used to heal tendon and ligament problems that result in hip pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, and elbow pain. Many of these problems stem from the wear and tear caused by the repetitive motions involved in certain sports, and athletes are increasingly using platelet-rich plasma therapy to treat tennis elbow and other sports injuries.

How Does Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy Work?

  • The body’s first response to soft tissue injury is to deliver platelet cells
  • Packed with growth and healing factors, platelets initiate repair and attract the critical assistance of stem cells
  • PRP’s natural healing process intensifies the body’s efforts by delivering a higher concentration of platelets directly into the area in need
  • To create PRP, a small sample of your blood is drawn (similar to a lab test sample) and placed in a centrifuge that spins the blood at high speeds, separating the platelets from the other components. The process is handled manually by a lab technician, producing higher concentrations of platelets and a much more pure concentration of the beneficial blood components
  • The PRP is then injected directly into the injured area of bone or soft tissue to facilitate the healing process


Benefits of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy

Compared to cortisone injections and other methods of treating osteoarthritis and tendon injuries, platelet-rich plasma therapy has a low risk of complications. Because the injections actually heal the affected areas, the relief from osteoarthritis pain can last for an extended period of time. The treatment can also provide long-term relief from hip pain, knee pain, elbow pain, foot pain, and other pain caused by inflamed connective tissue. Improvements in these conditions are typically noticeable after a few weeks, and the pain relief gradually increases as the tissue is repaired. Since the plasma is drawn from the patient’s own body, there is almost no risk of rejection from this procedure.

Details of the Procedure

Platelet-rich plasma therapy takes about 90 minutes from start to finish. Platelet-rich plasma is obtained by drawing blood from the patient and placing it in a centrifuge for about 15 minutes. The centrifuge spins at a high speed, separating the PRP from the rest of the patient’s blood particles. Once the layer of platelet rich plasma is isolate, it is injected directly into the injured area of bone or soft tissue to facilitate the healing process. The body responds by increasing its natural healing processes in the area. Some procedures consist of a single injection while others involve multiple treatments over an extended period of time.

Potential Risks

The side effects of the procedure are relatively rare. They include a very low risk of infection when a needle is inserted into the skin. The injection site may also bleed or bruise after the procedure. Patients who suffer from bleeding disorders or who take a “blood thinners” that inhibits blood clotting should avoid platelet-rich plasma therapy, if these blood thinners cannot be held prior to the injection. While any knee, elbow, or shoulder pain should eventually subside, some patients experience increased inflammation and pain after the injection.

Recovery Time

Patients are typically instructed to avoid strenuous activity for a few days, although most can return to their jobs the next day. A physical therapy routine will most likely be prescribed by your physician to reduce pain and increase mobility.