What is a bursa injection?
Bursa injections are primarily administered to soothe joint pain that results from bursitis (inflammation of the bursa), arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. A bursa is a gel-filled sac that help tendons and muscles slide over the bone; bursae can be located in one’s shoulder, hips, elbows, knees, etc. Swollen bursae can be a cause of joint pain in the region, and the use of a corticosteroid in conjunction with a local anesthetic can help to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Who can receive a bursa injection?
Bursa injections are usually performed on individuals who have not found any relief through mode conventional modes of treatment e.g. resting the joint, taking anti-inflammatory medications, using compression bands, etc.
How is a bursa injection administered?
The doctor will begin by numbing the intended region with a local anesthetic and he or she will then insert a thin needle into your bursa. The injection includes a combination of a local anesthetic – normally lidocaine or bupivacaine – and a corticosteroid. This outpatient procedure can take between 5 to 30 minutes, and you can return home after it is done.
What happens after the procedure?
You should not be doing any rigorous activity for at least 24 hours after the procedure; however, you can resume your regular medications and diet immediately (unless otherwise specified). You may also experience some pain as the numbing medication wears off and before the steroid medication takes into effect, along with temporary numbness at the injection site.
How effective is a bursa injection?
Any immediate relief after the procedure is usually due to the local anesthetic; longer term relief begins between 2 to 3 days after the steroid is given. The duration of which the pain is alleviated is varies from person to person. For some, the relief is permanent and for others it lasts for either a few days or a few months.
Note: Every individual can have up to four bursa injections a year; consult with the physician if the pain returns.
What are the risks?
The complication rate for a bursa injection is very low; however, common side effects can include swelling, bruising, and inflammation at the injection site.
Other side effects, pertaining to the steroid medication, can include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Water retention
- Slight fever
- Flushed face
- Increased appetite
- Abdominal cramping and/or bloating
*** For diabetics, the absorption of corticosteroids can increase blood sugar levels (BSL), so your BSL should be checked periodically hours after the procedure.
All side effects should resolve within a few days after the procedure.