Bursa Injections

What is bursa injection?

Bursa injection can help soothe joint pain caused by arthritis, bursitis and other painful inflammatory diseases. In many areas of the body, muscles and tendons must slide over and against one another during movement. At each of these places there is a bursa, which is a small sac of lubricating fluid, to help the muscles and tendons move without friction. When the bursa sac becomes inflamed, pain can result each time the tendon has to move over the bone. A steroid medication injected into your bursa can help reduce the inflammation and alleviate the pain.

How is bursa injection done?

The doctor will numb your skin with a local anesthetic. Xray fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance may be used. Then he or she will insert a thin needle into your bursa to inject a mixture of anesthetic (numbing) and steroid (anti-inflammatory) medications. You may experience some slight pressure or discomfort during the injection. It only takes a few minutes, and you can go home the same day.

How effective is bursa injection?

Some patients report pain relief within 30 minutes after the injection, but pain may return a few hours later as the anesthetic wears off. Longer term relief usually begins in two to three days, once the steroid begins to reduce inflammation.

What to expect after the bursa injection

You may experience numbness and/or relief from your symptoms for up to six hours after the injection. Your usual symptoms may return and possibly be worse than usual for a day or two. The beneficial effects of the steroids usually require two to three days to take hold, but may take up to a week. You can continue your regular diet and medications immediately, but do not do any rigorous activity for 24 hours after your bursa injection. Take it easy. You can return to your normal activities the next day. If an initial injection helped, a second injection might strengthen the pain relief effect. Also, if your pain improves, but begins to return weeks or months later, additional injections are possible. If there is no change in your symptoms after ten days, your doctor may want to investigate other possible sources for your pain. How long the pain stays away is different for each patient. For some, the relief is permanent. But if the pain returns, you can have another bursa injection in a few months — up to four a year.

What are the risks?

The risk of complication from a bursa injection is very low. However, there could be bruising, infection, swelling or inflammation at the injection site.

Side effects of the steroid medication are uncommon, but can include:

  • Elevated blood sugars
  • Flushed face
  • Slight fever
  • Hiccups
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Water retention
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal cramping or bloating

These effects resolve within a few days.

Who should not have a bursa injection?

Patients who have an allergy to any anesthetic, are on blood thinning medications, are diabetic, have an active infection, or are pregnant should consult with the pain physician before receiving the procedure. There may be special instructions or lab testing or the procedure might need to be rescheduled.

Is bursa injection right for you?

Bursa injection may be right for you if your joint pain has not improved after making simple lifestyle changes, such as resting the joint, using compression bands or taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.

At PrairieShore™ Pain Center, our goal is to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. If your primary physician has advised you to see a specialist for your pain, turn to us for help. To schedule your appointment, please contact us here or give us a call at (847) 883-0077.