What is an Intra-Articular Peripheral Joint Injection?

Intra-articular peripheral joint injections explained by Denver, Golden, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, and Littleton Colorado’s top pain doctors

Intra-Articular Peripheral Joint InjectionIntra-articular peripheral joint injections are non-invasive procedures used to treat joint pain and swelling when mild analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs provide insufficient relief. This procedure is commonly used to provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis and can also be used to treat degenerative musculoskeletal diseases and joint injuries. When effective, these injections can be used as part of an ongoing treatment regimen to manage chronic pain and inflammation.

Due to the non-invasive and relatively short treatment time, these injections are routinely performed as outpatient procedures. The effects of the injection are realized within two days of treatment and can be long-lasting, allowing for several weeks or months between treatments. The decreased inflammation and associated pain and swelling allows for increased mobility and significant improvements to a patient’s quality of life.

How is an Intra-Articular Peripheral Joint Injection Performed?

LidocaineIn an intra-articular peripheral joint injection, a corticosteroid or steroid is injected directly into the affected joint. The patient undergoing an intra-articular peripheral joint injection will be positioned sitting or lying down to provide comfort and access to the area of the joint receiving the injection. As is routine for an injection, the skin will be thoroughly cleansed prior to the procedure. Local anesthesia may be provided to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure. In order to aid the physician in providing greater precision to the specific area of treatment, fluoroscopic or ultrasonic guidance is often used. Once the medication containing the corticosteroid or steroid is injected, the patient will experience some numbness and a tingling sensation.

Due to the administration of a local anesthetic, some of the immediate relief may be temporary. To allow for short-term monitoring after the procedure, the patient will be moved to a recovery room. For at least 24 hours after the procedure, it is strongly recommended that patients rest and keep activity to a minimum. For any mild pain or swelling that occurs for up to two days after the procedure, ice may be applied to the site of the injection.

Relief following the injection should occur within one to two days. Depending on the patient, relief may last anywhere from a few days up to six months. Subsequent injections may be scheduled to maintain effective pain management. Sometimes the specific source of the pain is difficult to correctly identify. Therefore, if pain persists beyond the first one to two days after the injection, then additional tests may be necessary to more accurately identify the source of the pain.

As with any procedure, it is important to be aware of potential side effects. These include tenderness of the injection site, bleeding, infection, hematoma, and allergic reactions.

Conditions Related to Intra-Articular Peripheral Joint Injections

Knee Pain ArthritisIntra-articular peripheral joint injections are used for patients with chronic joint swelling and pain resulting from rheumatoid arthritis, joint injury, or degenerative musculoskeletal disease. While this procedure may be performed on several joints, the commonly treated joints are the shoulder, elbow, ankle, and knee. For patients who are not suitable for surgery or do not respond well to opioid treatments, intra-articular peripheral joint injections provide a safe, effective, and non-invasive option for pain management.

Chronic inflammation, when left untreated, can lead to further deterioration of joints and damage to surrounding tissues. The relief from joint pain greatly improves patient mobility and quality of life. Despite the noninvasive and routine nature of this procedure, it is typically reserved for patients whose pain cannot be adequately managed with mild analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients who are not candidates for more permanent surgical procedures may qualify for intra-articular peripheral joint injections for pain management.


Joint swelling and pain resulting from rheumatoid arthritis, joint injury, or degenerative musculoskeletal disease can be treated with intra-articular peripheral joint injections. This procedure provides relief from chronic inflammation within one to two days and this relief can last for several weeks or months for some patients. Depending on the severity of pain and effectiveness of the treatment, intra-articular peripheral joint injections may be administered multiple times a year to provide relief to chronic joint pain.

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