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Arthritis: Shots for Knee Pain

Overview

Shots, or injections, for arthritis knee pain can help you cope with the pain and be more active.

The most common shot for arthritis knee pain is a steroid shot. It's also called a cortisone or corticosteroid shot. Arthritis pain is caused by inflamed tissue, and the steroid shot can help reduce the inflammation.

Steroids don't always work. But when they do, the pain relief can last for several days to a few months or longer.

Another kind of shot for osteoarthritis is a hyaluronic acid injection. This shot may give some people short-term pain relief, but most experts don't recommend getting this shot. Many studies show that it doesn't help.

Side effects

A common side effect of shots for arthritis knee pain is swelling and pain the first day or two after the shot. It may help to apply ice at home. Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Injecting anything into a joint or tendon has a very small risk of harm, including:

  • Damage to a tendon, ligament, or nerve.
  • Bleeding into the tissue.
  • An infection.

Because of these risks, most doctors limit their patients to just a few steroid shots in a year.

Although these problems rarely happen, your doctor may mention them to you before you get a shot into a joint.

Credits

Current as of: July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Jeffrey N. Katz MD, MPH - Rheumatology