Injection therapy is a tool that physicians use both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Localized injections may help a patient relieve pain and limit the need for surgery if they respond well to the treatment. Both interventional and diagnostic implications must be considered when prescribing an injection for the treatment of soft tissue problems.
Office-directed cortisone or corticosteroid injections may successfully help a patient manage pain while they also undergo other conservative treatment such as physical therapy or home exercises. Ultrasound guided injections may also help provide greater accuracy thanks to real-time imaging capabilities. Through ultrasound-guided injections, a physician can treat a more specific area as they administer the injection, rather than a “blind” treatment where patient feedback dictates efficacy.
Another recent interventional option includes the expanding field of regenerative injections. This approach has drawn the attention of college and professional athletes alike who want to optimize their return to competition after an injury. The premise is to stimulate migration or actually inject one’s own growth factors, including platelet rich plasma, autologous whole blood, or mild proliferants like dextrose or sodium morrhuate, in diseased tendons or ligaments under direct visualization (ultrasound) where the structure has become stagnant and insufficient.
Regenerative treatment takes time to work effectively, especially in chronic conditions, so patience is a pre-requisite for success, but by coaxing the body’s natural ability to heal, long-term structural improvements may be attained.
Duration of relief from injection therapy varies from patient to patient and may last from a few weeks to a few months.