To help relieve knee pain, doctors use small needles to inject gel directly into the knee; this gel, which contains corticosteroids, acts as a direct and immediate method for alleviating knee pain. Corticosteroid shots provide the same benefits of orally ingested corticosteroid medications, say experts at the Arthritis Foundation, but reduce the risk of some side effects. These shots may be used alone or in conjunction with other pain management strategies for ideal pain relief and recovery.
Once injected into the knee, patients may have relief from knee pain for a duration of several days to over half a year, say experts at the Arthritis Foundation. Corticosteroids provide fast-acting relief directly to the site of injury or arthritis by controlling pain and reducing inflammation.
Although physicians may use these shots alongside other pain relief strategies, they often try other remedies before resorting to corticosteroid shots. Less invasive techniques that may provide relief include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, and even pills containing corticosteroids. When those remedies prove ineffective, doctors may try direct corticosteroid shots.
To do so, they first drain the knee of any excess fluids. Then, doctors inject the needle just below the kneecap, where the steroids then move throughout the joint. They offer relief in 1 to 2 days, but are used sparingly, as excess shots may break down surrounding structures like cartilage.