Because arthritis is a progressive disease, associated joint damage and disability can worsen as time passes. Suffers often come to a point in which lifestyle changes, medication, and other first lines of treatment no longer work. At that time, other proactive measures need to be taken. In most cases, image-guided knee injections are usually the best option for relief.
What is a Knee Injection?
Also known as a joint injection, a knee injection punctures the skin and inserts medication directly into the affected area. There are various types of injections, the most common being corticosteroids, viscosupplements, and arthrocentesis. The last one actually takes fluid out of the knee instead of injecting medication in and is often used before a guided injection.
The possible pros of having such a procedure:
- Immediate relief from pain and inflammation that can last for several months.
- Relief that takes hold gradually but lasts for an extended period of time.
Although knee injections can provide a great deal of relief for people living with arthritis, many people are shied away by the risks which include both joint infection and nerve damage. But thankfully, arthritis specialists are embracing new technology. New technology that significantly reduces these risks and makes knee injections much safer than they were in the past.
Taking the Blindfold Off
Before image-guided knee injections, shots to the knee were given blind in a sense. A ‘hit-or-miss’ approach was used, and arthritis specialists simply hoped for the best when using injections to treat the knee or other areas where arthritis has wreaked havoc. Basically, a doctor who is not using imaging has to palpitate the area around the joint and hope that the correct site is being injected. Thankfully, image-guided knee injections have given sight to an area that was once clouded.
How Does it Work?
The most common form of guided injection involves an ultrasound. Although ultrasound-guided injections are performed much in the same way as traditional injections, they are much more accurate. Using ultrasound gel applied directly to the skin and a probe, the doctor is able to visualize the area as well as how much medication is being injected into the knee.
An even better way is through fluoroscopy guided injections that use a small amount of contrast to confirm that the doctor is in the joint. This is a safe, and very quick way to get in the joint space.
When Would Guided Image Injections Be Recommended?
There are many circumstances in which guided image injections would be recommended over shots without imagery. Some examples include:
- Other treatment options have failed to improve inflammation inside the knee joint.
- The doctor wants to know if the pain in the knee is being caused by the joint.
- Exercises for arthritis of the knee aren’t bringing desired results alone.
- Medication needs to be injected directly into the joint itself and not in the soft tissue surrounding the joint.
- Anatomical issues (i.e., obesity) make it difficult to pinpoint the correct injection point.
- Your doctor failed to inject directly into the knee without using imaging guidance.
Even if your doctor does not bring up including image-guided knee injection in your treatment plan, it is something worth mentioning/considering on your own. Research studies are backing clinicians findings that using image-guided injections in the place of traditional ‘hit or miss’ shots greatly increases the accuracy of the injection. Whereas traditional shots have a miss rate of upwards of 50 percent, this number is significantly reduced with guided injections. In essence, image-guided injection therapies allow for greater clinical benefits and ultimately, less pain.
Interested in learning more about image-guided knee injections and how they might benefit you? Have you tried at least two oral medicines and continued to have pain that limits your desired activities or ability to work? Don’t be afraid to reach out to a qualified arthritis specialist concentrates on using guided imaging.