Corticosteroids are drugs that reduce inflammation. Doctors sometimes prescribe corticosteroid injections to treat joint pain, and the treatment can be performed during an outpatient appointment. The injections often contain a local anesthetic to prevent pain following the procedure.
How Do Corticosteroid Injections Work?
Corticosteroid injections don’t treat the root causes of joint pain. Instead, they work by mimicking the action of cortisol, a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal glands. Like cortisol, corticosteroid injections and drugs reduce inflammation to provide pain relief.
During the procedure, doctors insert a needle into the painful area and administer the corticosteroid medication using a syringe. The injection may be administered straight into the joint or into the surrounding muscle or soft tissues. Sometimes, the doctor will need to use a fine needle to drain the affected area first if there is a buildup of fluid.
Sometimes, doctors apply a topical local anesthetic to the injection site before the procedure to make the treatment more comfortable. They may also use imaging equipment such as an ultrasound scanner to help them direct the injection into the correct area.
Patients often report pressure during a corticosteroid injection, but it shouldn’t be excessively painful. You should tell your doctor if you’re in a lot of pain or experience discomfort during the procedure.