A hip injection is a cortisone shot administered in the hip joint to reduce pain and inflammation. A relatively simple and straightforward procedure, it can be performed at the doctor’s office in just a few minutes.
Hip pain does not automatically mean a patient would benefit from a hip injection, although this kind of treatment has been effective for patients suffering from hip pain, either due to injury or disease.
Examples of conditions that cause pain in the hip joint include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hip bursitis, hip fractures, tendinitis, dislocation, sacroiliitis, sciatica, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis. Cancer may also cause hip pain that can be managed with a hip injection.
Doctors typically recommend that patients stop using any kind of blood-thinning medications prior to receiving a hip injection, as these medications will prevent clotting, thus increasing the risk for excessive bleeding or bruising at the time of the injection.
Usually the patient will be asked to change into a gown. Then the doctor will clean the hip area to make it sterile before applying a topical anesthetic to numb the outermost nerves in the area.
At the time the needle is inserted through the skin and into the joint area, the patient may feel mild discomfort and/or a little pressure. Once the doctor has reached the desired depth, he or she will release into the hip joint the prescribed medications – usually a combination of an anesthetic and a corticosteroid. While the anesthetic provides immediate pain relief, the corticosteroid will work gradually to relieve pain and inflammation over time.
Following the hip injection it will be very important to monitor the injection site for any signs of prolonged inflammation, infection or excessive bleeding. The area around the injection site may feel somewhat sore for a few days following the procedure, and the doctor may recommend using cold therapy on the area to reduce swelling.
The patient may also be directed to limit activities for a few days immediately following the hip injection. This is important not only for limiting the chance of infection, but also to minimize potential post-injection pain and inflammation, and get an accurate idea of how the injection has affected the patient’s pain levels.
Potential complications and risks of a hip injection include: weakening or deterioration of bone, joint infection, nerve damage, temporary pain, temporary inflammation, temporarily elevated blood sugar levels.
Because cortisone injections might affect bone health, muscle strength and the health of the cartilage around the joint, a hip injection is usually not recommended to be performed with frequency, or over a long period of time. Doctors usually limit their patients to just a few injections per year and do not increase a patient’s dosage for the injection unless absolutely necessary.
However, for those patients who have exhausted other forms of therapy without the results they want, the injections can provide some relief.
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