Mr Rohit Jain, Consultant Orthopaedic Hip & Knee Surgeon at One Ashford Hospital specialises in hip joint injections and explains how effective they are, when after the injection you are likely to feel pain relief and if there are any side effects you should know about.
Hydrocortisone injections can work wonders to relieve troublesome hip pain and stiffness, particularly in patients with inflammatory arthritis. If you are due to receive one, you may have some doubts or questions that need answering.
How do hydrocortisone injection treat hip pain?
Hydrocortisone is a type of medicine known as a steroid that helps to reduce inflammation. Hydrocortisone can be injected directly into your hip joint and works by slowly releasing the medicine into and around your joint. Over time, it will relieve you of your hip pain.
After having the injection, when will you notice the pain relief?
After a hip joint injection, it can take up to 3-10 days for the steroid to start working, so patients should be patient for the medicine to kick in. As well as a steroid, hip joint injections contains a local anaesthetic, which begins working within a few minutes; however, it will disappear in a couple of hours.
For how long does pain relief last?
The pain relief from a hydrocortisone injection can last for up to several months, sometimes even a year. It all depends on how many hip joint injections you have had in the past and how severe the joint inflammation is.
Is there a limit to how many you can have in your hip?
Yes, you can have a maximum of four steroid injections per year, three months apart. It can lead to joint damage if you have more. If you do need more, it usually indicates that this is not the adequate treatment for you and you may need surgery.
Who isn't suitable for hydrocortisone injections?
Hydrocortisone hip joint injections are fine for adults to have, but not children as it can interfere with their growth and development.
Before the hip joint injection, adults should be well and healthy. If they have an infection or they are due a vaccine soon, we tend to avoid giving them hydrocortisone until after.
Are there any side effects?
Hip joint injections are well tolerated by most people and have very few side effects. Furthermore, they are easy to deliver and cause very little discomfort. The steroid goes directly into the joint, so the chances of systemic side effects are rare, and the chances of it getting into the bloodstream are also very low.
Repeated hip joint injections, however, can lead to tendon rupture. In diabetic patients, it can alter their blood sugar levels temporarily. Patients who are on blood-thinning medication need to be careful and they should find out whether these injections are safe by talking to their doctor before having them.
Can you change the steroid dosage over time?
The steroid dosage depends on how effective the previous injections were. If there is more than one joint affected, we tend to lower each amount going into each joint.
Can steroid injections interfere with other medications?
They can. In general, they are very safe and effective, but they have to be used properly. You should always inform the doctor who will administer hip joint injections of any medications you are on before having this treatment.
Is it possible to have vaccinations at the same time?
We avoid giving patients steroid injections if they are due to have a vaccine soon because your immune system might not respond as well to the vaccine as someone who has not had an injection.
If you are due your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine soon, you should talk to your healthcare team or GP for advice. You may need to delay having the injection and look for an alternative way to manage your hip pain in the meantime.
For who are hydrocortisone injections beneficial?
The most common reason for having a hydrocortisone hip joint injection is to relieve osteoarthritis or any other form of inflammatory arthritis. Patients with these conditions will very likely benefit from this treatment.