When are injections the best choice?

There are three types of injections commonly used in orthopedic medicine:

  • Cortisone is a steroid injection that is used to relieve more severe pain for those with symptoms of advanced osteoarthritis or another chronic condition or injury. A single cortisone injection can give anywhere from weeks to months of pain relief. A series of injections can be given. Patients who do not respond to cortisone may be candidates for surgery.

  • Lubricant injections are for those with mild or moderate joint pain where the natural lubricant is no longer working optimally. These types of injections are made from hyaluronate, which is found in rooster combs and is very similar to the substance already naturally occurring in human joints. It's marketed under brand names such as Synvisc and Euflexxa. Lubricant injections are often given with long-term joint protection as a goal, before the joint is too degraded.

  • PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections are used to speed up healing after surgery, or for an injured area that did not require surgery. PRP is made by taking the patient's own blood, spinning it in a centrifuge, extracting the healing cells, and re-injecting them in concentrated amounts into the same patient's damaged body part. It's been used successfully in a variety of patients. Athletes who need to return to their sports quickly are often good candidates for PRP injections.