Shoulder Injections: How They Work, Straight From The Shoulder

Because your shoulders are involved in such a wide and varied range of motions, when something is wrong with one of them – arthritis, injury or other disorder – the pain and discomfort hampers your ability to move freely and enjoy a normal life. Fortunately the pain management toolkit my colleagues and I have access to contains a safe, non-surgical procedure that can both diagnose and treat shoulder injuries and inflammation.

After other treatments have been tried and failed to provide sufficient relief – such as rest, ice/heat, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and/or physical therapy – we will recommend injecting a mix of anesthetic and steroid into the effected shoulder to relieve your pain and inflammation.

It’s a simple outpatient procedure that the skilled physicians at NJ Pain Care Specialists have performed with great success many, many times. Here’s a brief description of how it’s done and what it accomplishes:

  • After the area of the shoulder that requires treatment is sterilized, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the tissue. Many patients have told us they were pleasantly surprised that the injection felt about the same as a routine immunization.
  • Your physician carefully guides a needle into the shoulder joint and may utilize a real-time fluoroscope x-ray device and contrast dye to confirm the needle’s proper placement
  • With the needle in position, the physician injects a mixture of anesthetic and steroid medication – the anesthetic provides immediate pain relief, and the steroid medication reduces both the pain and inflammation over an extended period of time
  • At this point, your physician can usually determine the cause of your suffering – for example, a rotator cuff disease, or a rotator cuff tear
  • After the anesthetic wears off – usually four-to-six hours after the shot – you may feel minor discomfort for a few days. After two-to-three days, the steroid will take effect and begin to relieve the inflammation and pain and allow more movement in the shoulder.
  • Before you leave the facility, we might instruct you to:
  • Protect the injection area for a day or two – no heavy lifting
  • Apply ice to the injection site as needed
  • Watch for signs of infection

 It’s possible you may require three or more injections to get the relief you (and we) desire. But we will believe you’ll find it well worth the effort.