Steroid joint injections have been shown to help in easing pain and reducing levels of inflammation in arthritic joints.

They are commonly mixed with local anaesthetic and involve preparing the skin around the joint with antiseptic solution and placing a needle within the joint cavity and injecting the steroid and local anaesthetic mixture. In some cases, the injection is administered in the clinical room or the theatre complex and sometimes x-ray is required to guide the injection.

Why would I need this procedure?

Steroid joint injections are considered in patients who have symptomatic arthritis that have failed other types of treatment such as: pain killers, physiotherapy, activity modification and splinting.

What are the risks?

The risks after steroid injections are low, and serious complications are very rare. The following complications may occur, the list is not exhaustive:

  • Fainting can occasionally occur during medical procedures, particularly involving needles. This is usually due to a temporary fall in blood pressure. Please inform the clinician if you have had such an experience before.​​​​​​
  • A flare up of pain can sometimes occur for 24-48 hours after an injection, simple pain killers and rest usually alleviate this
  • Rarely infection can occur - this would present as a painful red joint which would be severely painful on movement and you may be generally unwell with a temperature. If this occurs, you must seek urgent medical attention at the emergency department. You may require the joint to be washed out with a surgical procedure​​​​​​​
  • Bleeding or bruising is possible, particularly if you are on any blood thinning medication. If this becomes severe seek urgent medical advice
  • Allergic reaction - wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or tongue, rash, vomiting or feeling very unwell. Seek urgent medical advice​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Blood sugars can be affected in diabetic patients. This does not usually warrant a change in treatment as the change is only very slight and lasts a few days​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Facial flushing - usually lasts 24-72 hours and is more common in women. Can also cause irregular vaginal bleeding in women for a few weeks​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Thinning of skin and soft tissue discolouration may occur in the area of the injection

Can anybody have this procedure?

Please inform your clinician if you have any of the following problems as you may not be suitable to proceed:

  • Allergy to steroid or local anaesthetic
  • Infection close to the joint or on the same limb
  • Broken skin or rash at the injection site
  • Bleeding tendency
  • Metal work near the injection site

What happens after the injection?

You will be monitored for 10 minutes or so after the injection. Try to avoid strenuous activities for a couple of days to allow the medicine to work.

If you have any concerns or queries please contact your Healthcare Professional at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital or Burnley General Teaching Hospital via Switchboard - 01254 263555

Alert (Amber)

For all other concerns, or if you are feeling unwell, your GP remains your first point of contact.