Bursa Injection

What is a bursa injection?

Bursa injection can help soothe joint pain caused by arthritis, bursitis and other painful inflammatory diseases.

A bursa is a gel-filled sac that helps muscles and tendons glide over bones. You have bursae in your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and other parts of your body.

When bursae get swollen, they can cause joint pain. But a steroid medication injected into your bursa can help reduce the inflammation and alleviate the pain.

How is bursa injection done?

The doctor will numb your skin with a local anesthetic. Then he or she will insert a thin needle into your bursa to inject a mixture of anesthetic and steroid.

You will be awake during the procedure. It only takes a few minutes, and you can go home the same day.

How effective is bursa injection?

Some patients report pain relief within 30 minutes after the injection, but pain may return a few hours later as the anesthetic wears off. Longer-term relief usually begins in two to three days, once the steroid begins to reduce inflammation.

How long the pain stays away is different for each patient. For some, the relief is permanent. But if the pain returns, you can have another bursa injection in a few months.

What are the risks?

The risk of complication from a bursa injection is very low. However, there could be bruising, swelling or inflammation at the injection site.

Side effects of the steroid medication are rare, but can include:

  • Flushed face

  • Slight fever

  • Headache

  • Water retention

  • Increased appetite

  • Increased heart rate

  • Abdominal cramping or bloating

These effects resolve within a few days.

What happens after the procedure?

You can continue your regular diet and medications immediately, but do not do any rigorous activity for 24 hours after your bursa injection. Take it easy. You can return to your normal activities the next day.

You may have numbness at the injection site for a few hours, but then your pain may return temporarily. It may take up to a week before the steroid begins to reduce your pain long term.

If you don’t feel better within 10 days, see your doctor for more evaluation and to discuss different treatments.

Is bursa injection right for you?

Bursa injection may be right for you if your joint pain has not improved after making simple lifestyle changes, such as resting the joint, using compression bands or taking anti-inflammatory medication.

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