Written by an Orthopaedic & Spine Center Staffer (who shall remain anonymous)
My knees ache! Carrying around this extra weight for all these years is not helping. “Lose weight”, says my doctor. How can I exercise to get the weight off when my knees are so painful? It is a vicious cycle: Lose weight with more exercise to stop aching; can’t exercise to lose weight because my knees ache from all the extra weight! My friend had a cortisone shot in her knee (done by her orthopedic specialist) and said it helped her pain for at least two months. Forget it! Just pass the potato chips and the foot stool! Steroid shot? No way, I hate needles!
If I can just talk myself into the shot, I could get relief from my pain and start exercising to lose the weight, I could then stop the pain for the long haul. That seems like a much better cycle to be in.
Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that the stuff inside the needle is actually a synthetic version of a substance that is produced by our own bodies. When our bodies are under stress, the adrenal gland produces cortisone that is released into the blood stream. However, the cortisone produced by the body does not last long and it is definitely not going directly to my bad knees. When a patient is given an injection to the knee, the cortisone goes right to the area of the problem. Now, cortisone is not going to relieve the pain, but it relieves inflammation, which can cause pain. It may also take a few days to work, but lasts much longer than the steroids our bodies produce.
On the outside of the skin, an anesthetic will be used so the injection site shouldn’t hurt. Since the cortisone may take a few days to make a difference in my discomfort, an anesthetic like Lidocaine or Marcaine may be included in the injection to numb my pain, fortunately with the same needle!
There might also be some comfort in knowing that the orthopedic physician has very specially trained hands that will use ultrasound to guide the injection. The ultrasound wand is placed near the site of the injection and the computer screen shows the physician exactly where the needle should go for the synthetic cortisone to provide the most benefit. It would be amazing to see the inside of my knee on the computer! It is reassuring to know that it is not just a random, blind jab, but a carefully guided placement of medicine. Having this information really helps calm my nerves about this procedure.
So, now that I have gained power through knowledge, I will take a deep breath, cover my eyes and invest in my future health!