Joint Injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Joint Injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis

This blog is called Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior because we have to fight. I know I’m not the best warrior or the only warrior – I just know that is what we have to do: fight. Actually, through this blog, I meet other warriors who inspire me every day. I feel like my own fight is a work in progress. Through the blog, I’ve shared some of my own battles, hoping it will help others in their fight.

I refused joint injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis

 Have you ever had a joint injected? Lots of patients talk about steroid injections in joints, but I had never had any.  Well now I have.

Why hadn’t I tried joint injections for RA before? My reasoning is kind of ironic. Or maybe just stupid.

fingers cannot bendIf you’ve read my story, you know the Rheumatoid Arthritis spread pretty fast through all of my joints. Within a few months, every joint that I knew of was hurt, stiff, sore, loud, and lame. Sharp pains vary, but they are all sore all the time, hurting more if they are used or touched. Gradually, RA taught me some anatomy lessons.

So when one doctor (not my current doc) recommended I see a pain specialist to have every painful joint injected, I refused. “You want me to inject every joint in my body? No.” That was about a year and a half ago. Ironically, I thought that meant that, even though it might help me, I would never have a joint treated with a steroid injection. Did I think all of the rest would be jealous? I don’t know.

Taking the new step of joint injections

For a long time, my fingers were never as bad as other joints; no obvious swelling. The RA made them always sore and weak, flaring worse now and then. About last January, they decided to prove the “mythical fact” about RA that hands are always bad. I had to stop doing lots things I’d done until then. No writing with a pencil. No more scissors. No knitting or sewing.

The fingers take turns being bad, but two are always the worst. They’ve stayed in full flare all these months. I’ve seen the rheum doc a couple of times; we’ve increased meds, changed my meds, and added meds. The fingers stay the same.  So, last week, I took a new step toward being an empowered patient and an RA warrior. I picked up the phone and told the receptionist at the rheum doc, “Please give me your first available appointment. On what days does doc do injections?”

To my shock, I was given an appointment in 4 days.

How much does a joint injection for Rheumatoid Arthritis hurt?

If you’ve watched my last video, you know I’m glad for the rheum doc I have now. If I had to give this one a nickname, it would be Smart Rheum Doc. If you don’t have Dr. Right yet, I hope you’ll watch the video sometime.

So, doc comes in, listens to me, squeezes lots of joints, and sternly says, “We will do one joint. It will hurt. If you can stand the pain, we will do another joint.” Scary sounding. So, the MA preps 4 needles and they both wash up. Smart Doc injects a local anesthetic – like a bee sting in my knuckle. Then the steroid shots.

I wish Katie Beth had snapped a picture of my face. That was it?

I told them both, “That joint hurts worse than that 20 times every day if it is accidentally touched.”

Then, I wished I had a picture of their faces!

Honestly, this is the smartest rheum doc I’ve ever met. I do trust this doc. Not so much the MA who makes mistakes and gets frustrated and rude. But this seems like a top doc. And yet, I think this doc has no idea how much RA pain hurts. If a great doc does not have a conception of what we have to deal with, then what does that say about the mediocre or crummy docs? They just don’t know. Their training does not teach that.

We need to change that.

Let’s inject every joint

Doc did another joint. I begged for more. Doc did some math. “No, you can only have two today because of the amount of medicine for your weight.” Doc knew I would be back soon for more, saying, “I’ll see you soon.” I guess injecting all of my joints doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore.

Here’s a page from the American College of Rheumatology with a good explanation of joint injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Postblog: Did it help? I’m writing this 3½ days after the injections. It got worse when the anesthetic wore off. Then it got better. I’ll post a photo to show how the range of motion is now. It still hurts. But it’s still early. What I’m really hoping for is to be able to wear mascara. It’s been 14 months since I could put on makeup. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Do you think you might be willing to try joint injections? Or maybe you have any tips about joint injections for the rest of us?

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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63 thoughts on “Joint Injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • October 13, 2010 at 8:47 am
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    I was really afraid of joint injections too. Then one of my fingers got so that I couldn’t straighten it– ever. It was curled down all the time. And it HURT. And it was hard to do things like write and type and drive, obviously. The doctor said she could give me an injection or we could do physical therapy. Honestly it was the cost that made the final decision for me.

    I was SO glad I got that injection. Within a day I had full range of motion back. Seriously. I’ve had a couple more since then; none have worked as well as that first one did, but they definitely help.

    Now my biggest issue is that I seldom get one joint like that that’s consistently bad. My RA travels my body like a bunch of little kids that can’t sit still. This morning my back hurts, my knees hurt, and the backs of my hands hurt, at least those are the joints that hurt the most while I’m sitting here. But by the end of the day it’s fairly likely that those joints will be feeling somewhat better and other ones will be hurting. So shots aren’t really likely to help that, yanno?

    Keep fighting!

    Reply
    • October 13, 2010 at 9:12 am
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      Erin, thanks so much for posting your experience. It helps others out a lot! I think for what you are describing, a systemic shot (into hip ususally) or prednisone pills are used. Shooting a moving target, eh? LOL.

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 9:01 am
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    Thank you, Kelly. I teach piano lessons and there are days I can play and days I can’t. It really gets frustrating. I’m not sure how long I will be able to keep playing. The students I teach are very understanding and when I can’t play it just makes them work harder to please me. I never thought about getting injections-that still sounds painful so I am glad you told us you lived to tell about it.
    I hope you continue to have good days-we (fellow warriors) needs you to keep posting.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Kristi

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:14 am
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      Thanks, Kristi. I know we are all different, but for me the shots were NOTHING compared to the “normal” stabbing pain of RA in joints every day!!

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 9:43 am
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    I have had multiple joint injections the past 7 years. i have been flaring for a month now; we increased my prednisone 2 weeks ago, and when i wenet in this am I asked my doc to PLEASE inject my index finger knuckle. I did something I had never done before..worked all night and went staright to the rheumey for an appointment. This morning she could see how swollen my hands and wrists are after working. We decided to stop the Simponi…i am worse after 5 doses than I was before, and am now going back on Enbrel to see if it helps for a while. I could not get any joints injected..she said too much steroid with the PO being increased 2 weeks ago. SO my knuckle will just have to be swathed in lidoderm for another month or so!
    My inejctions never really hurt, my doc uses a spray on anesthetic, I barely feel anything until about 12 hours after the joint injection, when the numbing meds wear off.

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    • October 13, 2010 at 10:28 pm
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      Wow, Laurie, my numbing meds wore off in about 45 minutes. what a great idea to go in when you know it’s bad & shows it. Good luck to you. Does she prescribe topical diclofenac (nsaid)? Would that help?

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 10:17 am
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    Oh I LOVE joint injections!!! I actually had my first two ever on August 2. When the RA doc & orthopedic mentioned it, they both said in some patients it helps, in others it doesn’t. The ortho actually ordered the shots to be done at a radiologist office. She gave me the option of a radiologits in the city she’s in or the city I live in. But she said, her other patients in the city I live in complained about the pain of the shots. Patients who went to radiologist in her city didn’t. So I obviously chose the city she was in! LOL. I’ve never had a problem with needles or shots, so I was all up for it, even if it did hurt, just to see if it would help. August 2nd came. The radiologist explained in detail everything he was going to do. I received an anasethic (forgive my spelling) shot first. It was like a pinch. Then he did a shot of dye. He wanted to see where in the ankle the shot would go. This would determine if I received 1 or 2 steroid injections. The dye did not move to both joints like he was hoping, or like it does in some people, so 2 injections it was. The first I felt absolutely NOTHING! I was actually watching the monitor and saw the needle in my joint as he moved it to the best position. It was very cool for me to see exactly what was happening. The 2nd injection, I did feel some pressure, but it didn’t hurt at all! With this one, he had to move the needle several times, but I couldn’t feel it. I sure did see it on the monitor though. The 1st 2 weeks after the injection my foot hurt so bad. We (the doc & I) decided it was most likely because I was now walking almost normally with no limp and using muscles in my foot I hadn’t used in over 2 years. By weeks 3 & 4, my walk was totally normal, no limp or anything. I was amazed at the difference the shots made. It has been wonderful. Now, I do still have bad days with the foot, but the pain I have now is NOTHING compared to what it used to be! I am just hoping the injections continue to last for some time. I am going to mention at my next RA doc appt that I want a wrist injection, because that is what is killing me now! I just have to be very careful of these steroid injections because I am also diabetic. It hasn’t been a problem so far, so yeah! These injections may not help everyone, but I believe it is worth it to try! You don’t know whether it will or not until you do try!

    Reply
    • October 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm
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      Wendy: THANK YOU so much for telling all that! I know it will help others – & it was a big help to me.

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 10:25 am
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    Hi Kelly, i’ve had numerous finger joints injected..i haven’t really liked the experience, the worse bit for me is when they ‘fill’ your finger with the anesthetic – the finger feels like its gong to burst! – but i must say the feeling afterwards when the pain has gone and i can actually move my finger is a blessing..being a piano teacher like Kristi i have to try and keep them mobile for as long as possible..quite depressing as now the RH is starting to drift, making piano playing a challenge and not up to the standard i should be .. Happy days!
    Thanks for the post as usual -Sara x

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    • October 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm
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      Sara, I have to say, I have a friend who still teaches piano with severe OA & her hands do not look like she could do anything at all – but she continued to play as the changes were gradual so she still can. It looks bad, but it still works. Hopefully, that wont’ be needed for you.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 10:43 am
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    THANK YOU…for posting this. I also have gone through this horrific thought of OMIGAWD you cannot inject the joint!!! Fear, more pain, needle getting stuck, you name it it went through my head. That and making a total plonker of myself at the doctors when I scream in agony.
    Having read what you have written, I may review these scary thoughts now. I guess I struggle to think that some pain can be less than my RA pain.
    So, thanks for sharing. Its much appreciated.

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    • October 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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      You’re welcome Karin. We can help each other this way. I wasn’t afraid of the injections until right beforehand. I just had made up my mind since it hurt so bad everytime it was accidentally touched.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 10:47 am
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    Over the years I have had multiple joint injections. The steroids in the knee weren’t too bad. The ones in the elbows made me take notice. I felt that pain all the way to my fingers. The pain only lasted a minute or so. And the injections did help. I have also had Synvisc injections in both knees. Those were probably the most painful things I have ever had. The first ones I had almost made me faint. My regular rheum dr would inject on the inside of the knee. He was out one time and another dr in the practice did the injections. He injected from the outside of the knee and it was not nearly as painful. So I guess the pain level can depend on where it is injeted.

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    • October 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm
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      Thank you, Janet! I was wondering about that. I wonder if they know that it is more painful w/ certain methods / locations.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 11:01 am
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    I’ve had my shoulder, elbow, wrist, ankle, knee and the bottom of my foot injected. The bottom of the foot was the only one that was really painful while it was being done (the doctor actually sat on my leg — I was facedown.)

    After getting a joint injected — rest the joint and keep ice on it for the first 24 hours. Expect it to be sore the next day but then you usually start seeing improvement after that.

    I’ve found that it’s usually worse in my mind than the injection actually is. In this case anticipation isn’t a good thing. But for joints that just aren’t getting better with any other medications — joint injections can really help.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2010 at 10:10 pm
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      Thanks for the advice, Carol. I think it’s been 4 days now – I’m surprised I still cant bend the joints down more.

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 11:08 am
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    As you might imagine,over a period of 54 years, I’ve had lots of injections–some painful, some not, from a lot of different docs,and I do believe the pain level depends on 1-the skill of the doc, 2-where the injection is, and3-the amount of inflammation in the joint, and 4, how quickly and thoroughly you ice it afterward.The worst I ever had was when I drove myself to the doc’s, an hour away, had one in my wrist (a tender spot anyway)went to lunch, then made the terrible mistake of going to a thrift shop! By the time I’d pushed those clothes around on the racks for a while I was in the worst pain I’d had since childbirth, I think, and I still had to drive the hour back home. Not smart at all!I learned the hard way ICE! ICE! and more ICE!

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:59 pm
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      Thanks much Lyn. Your veteran advice is helpful. I was not told to ice. My doc is very skillful & it did hurt – I just meant RA is so much worse. I think if RA weren’t worse, I’d have to skip the shot. LOL. Still waiting to get range of motion back, but hurting less than it was. Yes, aren’t wrists tender, aren’t they?

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm
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    I have had the same ankle injected multiple times over the years, with varying results. Sometimes it lasted other times it didn’t do much. It may not necessarily work on the first try. The last time was great it has been fine for almost a year. The injection itself was not painful but it did take time for unused muscles and tendons to recover.

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:49 pm
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      What do you think is the reason it works some times better than others? User error? Or difference inside of joint?

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm
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    I just had my thumb injected last week. I play piano for a living and my right thumb wouldn’t extend – a pretty big problem for me! After the injection, I couldn’t use the thumb for about three days, and there is still deep bruising, but now my range of motion is completely back and I can play! Woo-hoo!

    A few years ago I had injections in my foot and in my sacroiliac joint (at two completely different times). This was, in both cases, because I couldn’t walk. Like you, I’ve resisted joint injections unless the situation was really dire. But they helped!

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:46 pm
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      I’m so glad it worked so well. I’m just trying to get that one finger back. Well, one at a time. Haha. Tonight it’s not hurting as bad, but the range of motion is the same as it was beforehand. – Like in the pic I took on my phone last night.

      Reply
  • October 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm
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    Congrats and keep us posted. And by the way, you are beautiful and do not need mascara or any other make-up!
    Trish 🙂

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm
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      Haha. Just would be nice to have a part of the old me sometimes. Thanks for being so sweet.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm
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    Thanks for the “little kids running all over” analogy! Made me laugh and I can definitely relate! My doc hasn’t recommended injections….yet……cuz I have the little kids running all over! Monday and Tues this week, everything hurt everywhere, but my hands and feet were on fire with hot pokers occasionally making their way up thru my toes to my ankles. Went to my pain mgmt doc yesterday and he added another pain pill to my regimin saying, take this one when it is exceptionally bad, in addition to your reg pain pills. Today, the fire went out in my hands and feet. However, the hot pokers are now making an appearance behind my ears, thru my eardrums and down my jaw, disappearing and reappearing in my knees! Good grief.
    Thanks for letting me whine!
    Trish

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm
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      Dear Trish, I just want to say I didn’t think you whined! It sounds like you are trying hard to get the pain under control. Good for you being so brave.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 5:43 pm
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    Arthritis and Circulation
    I have (had) arthritis in several joints and was faced with the chronic long term effects of this progressive debilitating disease. It seems to be an issue in my family and has affected my mother pretty severely in her shoulders. In my case, it became very uncomfortable in 2001/2002. For a while, I was always limping and could not wear shoes because of the extreme and severe pain in the big toe joint of my left foot. I decided on surgery because did not want injections. They are just band-aids and will wear thinner and thinner as you have more and more of them. So, I had the surgery and my walking became manageable, but the joint remained stiff. Then, about a year later, I was faced with another surgery, this time in the big toe joint of my right foot. In addition, I had constant pain and inflammation in the joints of my right hand fingers. What was my prospect for that? More surgeries? Or trying more meds and injections? My husband has Arthritis as well. He experienced periods where he could not lift his arms anymore. All offered medical options included the long term use of pain medications, injections of cortisone, and surgery. However, we both believe that long term use of prescription drugs should be avoided if possible due to the side-effects of any medication. Just look at the side-effects of Arthritis drugs: liver damage is possible!!

    In 2006, I came across a product from Germany. My aunt uses it since 2004 for debilitating pain due to a severe and almost deadly accident in the early 90’s. Her doctor recommended she should try it for pain management. It is a pulsed electro-magnetic mat. It improves and positively affects Microcirculation in a body wide application. But it also boosts the immune system, stabilizes the ph balance of your blood, increases ATP, and improves oxidative balance. The overall positive effect is on cell metabolism and the self-regulatory ability of our bodies. For the last 3 years, my husband and I use this mat daily. It made any further surgery or use of medications completely unnecessary. In fact, we are both pain free and do not have any inflammation anymore. For us it means a normal life without prescription drugs for Arthritis or High Blood Pressure, which my husband also used to suffer from. And we lead an active lifestyle, exercise regularly and eat sensibly.

    However, if Microcirculation is impaired, it leads to an impairment of cell function. Most anybody in the medical world understands this problem; yet, most do not address it or do not understand how to address it. Instead, medications and surgery remain the focus. In my opinion, this constitutes a band-aid approach for issues that may have taken years to develop just as was evident in our personal case. Astonishingly, daily PEMF applications improved, diminished and eliminated arthritic pain and swelling, stabilized my husband’s blood pressure, and had several positive effects for my aunt. It was a gradual approach; but most importantly, it was non-invasive, had no side-effects and was effective. So, I prefer an approach that will not lead to long-term use of injections and prescription drugs.

    I thought I should share my story for people who face this dilemma (should I or shouldn’t I) of considering what is available and other alternatives.
    Bettina

    Reply
    • October 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm
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      Thank you for sharing. Do you and your husband and your aunt and your mother have RA? or osteoarthritis? I’m just curious because boosting the immune system in RA seems counterintuitive.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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    I’ve got RA. My first joint injection was for trigger finger. It went away and never came back. Lately I have been having an ankle injection every 8 months or so. I barely feel it.

    The Dr marks the joint with a pen, and gets it right each time and fast. It works well and lasts for months, so I’m lucky there

    Annette

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    • October 13, 2010 at 11:12 pm
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      Sounds like you have a good doc, Annette! Thanks for the info 😀

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  • October 13, 2010 at 11:24 pm
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    Before I had been diagnosed with RA I went through years of pain control and two neck fusions. I underwent quite a few epidurals up in the C4 area and had lots of trigger point injections for spasams around my shoulder blades. After one summer and 26 injections I was pain free for almost 2 and a half years. After RA I have had the steroid in the hip & knees and the synvisc in the knees with good results for both. It is always the anticipation that bothers me, then after the first shot you know it’s noit that big a deal.
    A word of caution on the knees, some tech’s like the sides and some like the front. I would avoid the front injection and ask for someone who can go in the side. I found the front of the knee to be brutal compared to the side.
    Thank you for this site. I am really new at looking to the web for help and have found several helpful sites like this one available to me when I get so frustrated that I am just sitting here in the middle of the night in pain. But I am not alone and it’s some comfort to know who else is out there dealing with this.
    Shots can be quite helpful, give them a try.
    Phil

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    • October 13, 2010 at 11:34 pm
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      Thanks a lot, Phil. You’re the 2nd person who said that about the knees! I’m definitely taking note.

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      • October 20, 2010 at 6:43 pm
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        Thanks for the tip! Who would ever know – except us!

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  • October 14, 2010 at 7:57 am
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    Kelly – I suspect the rheumy’s “it hurts a lot” is reflecting the fact that steroid injections are often used for injuries, especially knees. These patients have no real longterm pain level to compare with – yes, the ligament/tendon whatever damage was painful but it hadn’t been there for months or years. I had a knee injected years ago and also wondered what the “it is very painful” bit was about after it was done. Once the local anaesthetic wore off I had some idea – there was this aching sensation like period pain, toothache and backache all in one only worse and I felt really nauseated. (Which wasn’t too clever as we were at a really good restaurant for dinner!) However – some oral painkillers took the edge off and after a couple of hours it was OK. The result was worth it though even for injury pain – having small kids I needed to be able to walk which I hadn’t been able to do.

    As you know I have PMR not RA but for a few weeks I’ve been considering asking if a joint injection for my foot is a possibility as if I go down 0.5mg/2 days on my steroid dose the constant pain in my right foot that returns makes standing and walking horrendous. I wondered if dealing with that bit of inflammation locally might enable a dose reduction systemically – which is the only mantra we PMR bunnies ever hear from our doctors!! This has been a very useful post – thanks!

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    • October 14, 2010 at 10:24 am
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      Thanks, Eileen. I’d love to hear what they tell you. I thought that injections are done for a variety of rheum conditions.

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  • October 14, 2010 at 10:54 am
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    Hi Kelly,
    This is my first time posting, but I’ve been following your blog since I was diagnosed. Thanks for everything you do! I was diagnosed with RA about 7 months ago, and my medications (MTX, Humira, and Celebrex) have been working pretty well so far to control the pain and inflammation. But a few months ago, I started having alot of pain and stiffness in my left elbow. I told my rheumy about it at my next appointment, and he recommended a cortisone shot right away. I had never heard of them before, so I was a bit taken aback! A shot in my elbow??? But he numbed it with an anesthetic spray first, and it was over very quickly and I barely felt it. It took about 2-3 days to kick in, but my elbow has felt great ever since! So far so good!
    Liz

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    • October 14, 2010 at 11:05 am
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      Thanks for speaking up, Liz. Great to hear from you. 🙂 Doctors vary so much. It’s been several years & this was my first time.

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  • October 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm
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    I too have gotten many steroid injections in shoulders, knees, and ankles. The temporary discomfort is well worth the payoff. Even the most painful procedures lasted only a minute or so. The ones in my knees helped me to deal with the pain and stiffness and delay replacements for a few years. I agree with the folks who say ice, ice ice. A bag of frozen peas works great to contour around the joint. Expect it to feel worse initially and then gradually improve. Do whatever it takes to feel the best you can.

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  • October 18, 2010 at 9:21 pm
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    I have had several shots in my right hand and right ankle and let me tell you. Because they were already inflamed to the point of not being able to type or move much – hurt like fire! Afterwards taking some T3’s were helpful. Then after that (about 24 hours) much, much better. Better range of motion, and able to walk without a limp. I think it matters on how much inflammation you are in to start to get an idea of how much pain to expect with the injections. Worth it in the short run tho.

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    • October 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm
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      So far, the shots haven’t improved the joint’s function. I’m disappointed. It’s been over a week now & I still don’t have any more range of motion than before. Although the pain is less. It’s like there is a rock in the way if i try to bend those joints. How long does it take you to see improvement?

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      • October 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm
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        About a week or two. At the time I was having that bad flare I was seeing a hand therapist and a physical therapist for ROM (range of motion) exercises. I RAVE about my terrific hand therpaists and hope that they are available to as many of you as possible. They told me stories of years before that most if not all RA patients had hand surgeries and they would see them. Now, because of new meds and faster treatments, they see less post surgical patients. Huh. Interesting. Hopefully, you have a good hand therapist in your health care system that can help you regain your range of motion. Have your doctor write a referral. Much care!

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  • October 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm
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    Hi Kelly Im sorry ur injections didnt work on your hands..I have been getting them for years on my knees and elbows..A few times they did not work! I went back when i could and had more..they worked that time! Sometimes they work (most of the time for me) and sometimes they dont! Dont give up on the injections..they might work for you the next time! I did go to a family doctor one time and she injected into my muscle on my forearm! Wrong! I thought i was going to pass out driving home! I feel that i should only get them in the joint!..So only Rhuemys from now on..Theres no magic anything to take away all the pain but we keep plugging away at the worst joints. Thanks for this site or I would be crazy..lol This site helps me sooo much reading what others have gone through! Best Regards Judi :pumpkin:

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    • October 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm
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      Well, I was still giving them time. The pain has worsened in those joints again today, creeping back up. The swelling is still down, but range of motion is far from normal. Probably I have a lot to learn about what to expect. Wondering about whether to ask for my shoulders now when my back is recovered…? Why was that GP injecting muscle? Did she know what she was doing?

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  • October 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm
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    I am all for injections when needed. I have had several over the past few years and I certainly agree that the injection pain compared to the pain I am feeling is NOTHING! I’ve had injections in my wrists, feet and elbow. They are tender for that day and maybe the next but I usually enjoy full range of motion within a couple of hours, even while it is tender because of the injection. I usually call the doctor for injections when I am in so much pain I can’t even cry. A couple of times I couldn’t even drive myself to the doctor, that’s how you know you really need them. If you’re considering it yourself, I think you’ll be glad you did it.

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    • October 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm
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      Jessica, it’s been a couple – 3 weeks now & I didn’t get the range of motion back in the finger joints. The swelling did go down after few days, but the pain came back pretty quickly too. I’m not giving up – I hope to try to do my shoulders soon in case it does help. I’m game to try anything that will let me re-gain abilities at this point.

      Reply
  • October 30, 2010 at 1:53 am
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    Kel, what meds are you on now for your RA? Do you take NSAIDs or oral prednisone?

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    • October 30, 2010 at 10:33 am
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      You know Chelsea, I had to laugh. 😀

      (I do get patted on the head once in a while by folks who don’t read the blog & say, “Isn’t it nice you share your whole journey with the world in the chronicle of a blog?” Um, no. I don’t. That’s a dead giveaway they haven’t read much here. I’m sorry for being sidetracked – it’s just funny to me. Yes, I do keep much of my personal stuff off the blog – the site is more than my story – It’s all our stories.)

      But since you asked: I do use very hefty doses of NSAIDs which does not thrill my docs one bit. My rheum doc has a rep of being anti- pred. However, with the docs strong encouragement, I’m using low doses of pred to see if I can re-gain or keep any more abiltities with a goal of lowering the NSAIDs for long term health reasons. I’ve also changed pain meds recently. So far, I’m not doing any better. But I’m trying a new NSAID again this week – diclofenac.

      Reply
  • October 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm
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    I know they are both double-edged swords. I just know you’ve struggled so much and wasn’t sure if you’d tried either of these along with the biologicals. I do know you take high dose mtx. There are at least a dozen or so NSAIDs and different ones work for some and not for others. They fall into at least 3 categories according to wikipedia. I was just thinking you should try different NSAIDs until you find one that might work better. Also see which ones are longer-acting. I’ve found those do me much better than the shorter acting ones.

    What dose of prednisone, and did you do a higher burst and then taper down to it? That’s another thing to try doing. I hate to hear the shots didn’t help your fingers.

    I’m wondering something weird. Does anyone ever get a dull throbbing pain under your fingernails and/or toenails? I’ve had this recently, but nothing looks wrong with them. They feel tender like they are healing from being slammed in a door or something but that hasn’t happened!

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  • October 30, 2010 at 8:21 pm
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    I finally ended up with diclofenac after trying many others. Don’t even try indocid – that’s the worst for the stomach. I take a 75 mg Slow Release tablet morning and evening. I feel it if I forget. I tryed halfheartedly to drop the dosage after starting Humira but I can always feel it.

    I also take losec to protect the stomach

    Annette

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  • January 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm
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    Kelly,
    I’ve had plenty of injections in my knees. Bad knees from playing sports (or so I thought). Never thought about my hands. But recently did see the pain doc myself for my lower back. Ended up getting bilateral facet medial branch blocks. Even though my Rheumy said it is rare for RA to effect the spine, I now have xrays and reports from the pain specialist documenting mine. One side was so bad, they couldn’t get the needle in correctly. Too much arthritic build-up in the way. I, like you, had a tough day after the anesthetic wore off, but I can get up from my chair at my desk with only a little difficulty now. It’s been a week. I hope it lasts for at least another week or so.
    I have found a new friend – Dr. Naigi at UAB pain clinic!

    Reply
    • January 27, 2011 at 10:18 pm
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      Why do so many patients say the RA affects their backs and so many doctors say it’s rare. I’m starting to wonder if it’s like it is with the larynx and other “rare” symptoms that are not rare after all. Anyway, I hope the blocks work a long time Amy!!

      Reply
  • June 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm
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    I have had to have several cortisone shots in one knee. Years ago, I really hurt my knee and my orthopaedist came me one. It hurt so much that I thought I would pass out. He gave me no instructions to follow at home and it didn’t help. Years later when the the OA in that knee was so bad and RA had just about taken over every joint in my body, my wonderful rheumy suggested a shot in that knee and assured me that the injection would not be that painful. She numbed my knee with a spray and did the injection. I could feel the needle moving around, but it was not painful. Honestly, I have had flu shots that hurt worse. She didn’t tell me to use ice, but she did tell me to keep that leg elevated, to stay off my feet, and to rest for 3 days. It took several days for it to take effect, and when it did, it really helped with the pain. Sometimes, there is so much joint damage that no amount of shots or therapy will ever get back all the range of motion that has been lost. That was the case with my knee. Hopefully, Kelly, that is not the case with your poor fingers. In spite of not being perfect, the injections are definitely worth considering and a blessing when they work.

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  • April 24, 2013 at 1:02 am
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    I have been reading and following this site and appreciate the information! I wondered if anyone suffers with chronic pain with the back of legs. Sometimes I go thru periods of prednisone usage of 5mg when I get a flare-up, which lasts for a month. Then I get slowly off them. It takes a while to lose the addded weight gain from the pill you love to hate! I had a lot of hope while taking Humira! But still not much change. I am still taking 6mg Methotrexate injection as well as Plaquenil and Leuflominide! I may go with my Dr.’s suggestion of a rather newer biologic called Cimzia. By the way I was diagnosed 2/12 years ago and also have Osteo Arhritis, which I suppose most people with RA suffer as well! I would like to hear from others and what they are doing for their inflammation and pain relief! Thank you! Maria Paolone

    Reply
  • December 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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    Has anyone got a injection into the small finger joints from the palm side (not the back of the hand). I had this done two weeks ago into the small middle joint of one of my fingers and it actually made it much worse (still stiff sore and bruised). I am worried the doctor didn’t know what he was doing and has caused an injury to my finger.
    Thanks
    Mike

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    • December 13, 2013 at 8:33 am
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      Hi Mike, I never had one from the palm side but I’ll Google that. Mine was worse a while before improving with injections in small finger joints. Hopefully yours will improve soon.
      Docs do things different ways. (Mine injected knees from the side instead of front.)

      Reply
  • December 28, 2013 at 2:40 am
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    I had my thumb injected 5 days ago, the first day it was numb and swollen, on day 2 it felt pretty good. On day 3 I could use it somewhat. On day 4 it started feeling very stiff, but not as painful as before the injection. Today is day 5, it is very stiff, not hurting too bad, but then again it is sort of hard to tell, I am in terrible pain in so many other joints right now. I think I would try it again.

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  • April 6, 2014 at 10:02 am
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    Article does not even state what type of injection. My limited reading demonstrates that some injections, for example prolotherapy, cause damage and worsen RA symptoms but good for OA. It appears from the link to another website that her posting was steroid injection but not clear since link to other website also talks about hyaluronic acid injections. Does anyone know of ANYWHERE that will perform synovial joint fluid replacement? Can anyone provide any other injections that do not cause damage? I have already tried the steroid injections, more than one time, with zero relief.

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  • November 9, 2015 at 9:52 am
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    Steroid injections don’t help me because they seem to wear off too soon. I have discovered Sarapin trigger point injections help me. I go a couple times a week to build it up in my system for several weeks then I go once a week to maintain. I get two injections in the neck and two in the lower back. They have helped me tremendously with the inflammation and stiffness. Don’t get me wrong – I still have pain & always will but it has greatly reduced my pain & inflammation. I wouldn’t be able to function without them. My body does not tolerate the prescriptions used to treat RA so the Sarapin injections have been such a relief. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory made from the carnivorous pitcher plant and there are no side effects for me which is fantastic.

    Reply
  • November 9, 2015 at 10:43 am
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    Hi Kelly!I can relate to you regarding your fear of joint injections. I finally had to break down and have a intraarticular hip injection at the first of this year. My right hip was awful. Pain, swelling and stiffness abounded in it all the time. The first injection wasn’t near as bad as the constant pain I had been experiencing all the time. It felt so good after 2 days I thought about having one every month! Alas, they can only inject that place every three months. I had one month worth of walking without my cane and then bang! I was right back to struggling to get out of bed again. This went on for almost a year. Needless to say I ended up having total hip replacement a few weeks ago. My hip felt insanely better the day of surgery in recovery! I was so amazed. Was it a hard surgery….yes but I would do it again in a heartbeart. No one understands RA pain unless you are living with the disease. So….definitely DON’T be afraid of injections. They help so much. Also…DON’T be afraid of replacement surgeries. You will feel so much better afterwards. Thank you Kelly for bringing fellow RA people together and keep up the great work. Cheers!

    Reply
  • November 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm
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    You are lucky with your Doc. I’ve had injections for RA in my knees and there are times when it hurts so badly that I almost faint from it! Those are the injections into the front of the knee. Having an injection on the side of the knee isn’t such an issue and the pain from the injection kicks in later that night and the next day and it hurts really badly then.
    I’ve also had shoulder joint injections and nearly fainted with that one too. I loath those injections lol!
    Also I’ve fibromyalgia and I’ve lots of back pain due to muscle damage. My GP has just started me on a new regime and I really hope that will help with the fibro which should help me to become a little more mobile and that will help with the RA too Karen x

    Reply
  • November 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm
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    Hi,
    I recently went to see a back surgeon, for all the pain I was having in L3-L4 and my sciatica. He told me I was not bad enough for surgery, but he would send me to two doctors who did Pain Management. I researched these doctors and both had good reviews. The doctor I saw recommended radio-frequency ablation. I had never heard of this, but I did research at the Cleveland Clinic and found it was very positive. I have killed 6 nerves, we have so many; and a steroid injection in each sciatic nerve. This two about 4 weeks to complete. I have now been pain free in my back! I have moderate RA but damage to my spine from playing hard! Everyone should look this up.
    Jill

    Reply
  • December 23, 2015 at 2:28 pm
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    I wrote a long comment and then lost it–I can’t do it again, but basically it was a warning. I recently had 2 injections in the same appointment and had a very bad reaction–perhaps a t.i.a.. It took a week to get a dangerously high blood pressure reading down to normal with meds. I believe the orthopod should have known that was too much cortisone for a 125-pound, 83-year-old, and I may just fire him. They don’t help a lot anyway,so I probably won’t have anymore. Check out my FB page to see all of the things I CAN STILL DO if you are interested. I’ll friend you if you just tell me you are Kelly’s friend. I have had RA for 60 years and am in the onset stories if they are still there.

    Reply
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