Steroid and local anaesthetic injection may be used to diagnose, treat or relieve symptoms of many musculoskeletal conditions.
I do a lot of these for patients with ‘wear and tear’ arthritis of their knees who are not suitable for surgery or prefer to avoid it. The skin is cleaned, a small amount of steroid and local anaesthetic is injected into the knee joint and a sterile dressing is applied. The patient must then rest the knee for a couple of days, following which the inflammation in the joint should have settled and their pain reduced. This improvement may last for up to 6 months, and the injection can be repeated 3-4 times per year as needed. This may reduce the amount of painkillers needed, and maintain mobility and independence.
Steroid injection can be helpful for a range of shoulder conditions including tendonitis and frozen shoulder, usually alongside physiotherapy.
Trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome can also be effectively treated, although if carpal tunnel symptoms recur following injection it is more likely that surgery will ultimately be required.
As with any procedure there are some possible risks including bleeding, infection and damage to structures such as tendons. These are very rare and none of my hundreds of patients to date has had any serious adverse effects.
Though as GPs we are able to carry out these injections, we are fortunate to have a team of specialist radiologists who are able to offer ultrasound diagnosis and guided injections. In addition to this, the radiologists offer a range of specialised injections and are able to care for muscle and bone pain of all types. Have a look at the information on our website to find out more, or get in touch.