Arthritis is a disease of the joints that can cause chronic, or long-term, pain. The hip joint is particularly prone to this condition because it bears much of the body’s weight. Hip pain can also be caused by an injury to the hip, although this is less common than arthritis as a cause of discomfort in the area.
For some patients with milder cases of hip arthritis or an injury that isn’t too severe, taking analgesics (pain relievers) or anti-inflammatory medications orally might be sufficient relief. However, for more serious cases, hip injections are often necessary in order to achieve the desired pain relief. In addition, these injections have a beneficial effect on the underlying condition that is causing the pain in many cases.
Injections for Hip Pain Relief: Diagnostic vs. Therapeutic
Hip joint injections may be classified as either diagnostic or therapeutic. A diagnostic injection is meant only to determine whether a particular patient will benefit from receiving a therapeutic injection at some point in the future.
There are several reasons why doctors might perform this procedure prior to giving a patient a therapeutic injection. First, it can help confirm that arthritis or another medical condition is indeed present and that it is not being caused by some other problem. Second, if the diagnostic injection is given after an injury has occurred but before there has been time for the injury to heal, it can determine whether or not the injury is likely to respond to a therapeutic injection.
If the hip joint does indeed appear suitable for receiving a therapeutic injection, doctors will typically wait several months before giving one in order to allow the patient time to recover from the diagnostic procedure and give them time to consider their options.
Benefits of Hip Injections
Hip injections are particularly beneficial because they can provide long-term relief for people suffering from this painful condition. Unlike oral analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, which must be taken regularly over an extended period of time in order to achieve any benefit, most patients enjoy immediate pain relief following the injection. For particularly severe cases, this can mean several months or even years of added quality time with friends and family before eventually succumbing to the inevitable degenerative effects of osteoarthritis in this joint.
Fortunately, only minor risks are associated with hip injections in general. The numbing agent may cause some temporary numbness or tingling around the site where it was injected; however, this side effect usually subsides within a few hours at most.
Very rarely, patients develop an infection following their injection, but this is also quite uncommon given how few people actually experience it. Even if they do get an infection, it will typically be no worse than a typical sore throat and will typically respond to antibiotic treatment.
Hip Pain Relief: Management Strategies
In most cases, a hip injection is only needed once (or at most twice) in order to provide relief for months or even years. However, there are other strategies that can be used in conjunction with this treatment or as an alternative when necessary. For example, many people often use heat and ice packs in order to alleviate their pain before an injection is even necessary.
When this does not provide enough relief for a particular individual, there are many oral analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications that can be used in addition to or in place of injections. These include both over-the-counter and prescription drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Hip injections are quite safe and effective in the vast majority of cases. However, they do not work for everyone. In rare cases in which they do not work, there are many other treatment options that can be used instead.