Ankle injections are recommended for patients suffering from long-term ankle pain. Inflammation and tissue damage from blunt force trauma or different conditions, such as osteoarthritis and bursitis, can lead to chronic and severe pain in the ankle. An ankle injection by Novus Spine & Pain Center’s pain clinic in Lakeland, Florida, can help reduce the pain.
An ankle injection is a pain management procedure that introduces medication into the ankle and the surrounding soft tissue. Typically, the injected medication consists of corticosteroids and an anesthetic.
The injection is done under sterile conditions using a syringe and needle. The goal of the ankle injection is to relieve pain and improve joint function.
Ankle injections are usually recommended when over-the-counter pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen, and such) are ineffective in treating ankle pain, and the patient begins to suffer from significant mobility problems.
In addition to helping treat chronic pain, ankle injections can also help diagnose the origin of the pain.
The injection can help your pain doctor assess whether you could experience longer relief from a different treatment, such as a nerve block.
Conditions Treated with Ankle Injections
Several conditions cause inflammation, tissue damage, and persistent ankle pain.
Cortisone shots may be most effective in treating inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be part of treatment for other conditions, including:
Anterolateral impingement syndrome. A condition caused by a physical impediment inside the ankle joint that affects the functioning of the joint.
Bursitis. Inflammation of the bursa (a sac filled with lubricating fluid between bones) in the ankle.
Gout. A type of arthritis that typically affects the big toe.
Osteoarthritis. A common joint disease that causes a breakdown of the cartilage in a joint.
Plantar fasciitis. Inflammation of the fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) that provides support to the arch of the foot.
Posterior tibial tendonitis. A condition affecting the tendon in the foot that supports walking.
Psoriatic arthritis. A type of arthritis that causes inflammation and stiffness in the joints.
Reactive arthritis. A type of arthritis triggered by an infection in another part of the body.
Rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
Synovitis. An inflammation of the lining in the joints.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome. Compression of the tibial nerve that runs along the inner leg behind the medial malleolus (bump on the inside of the ankle).
Tendinitis. An inflammation of a tendon that attaches muscle to bone.
Turf toe. A sprain of the main joint of the big toe.
How Do Ankle Injections Work?
An ankle injection is a procedure that can be performed in a few minutes at the Novus Spine & Pain Center.
After identifying the area for the injection, a topical anesthetic is applied to the ankle. Then, an injection needle is inserted, and the medication (typically cortisone, and an anesthetic) is injected into the targeted region of the ankle. The corticosteroid targets the inflammation, and the anesthetic helps to provide pain relief.
Following the injection, you will remain in the office for about 30 minutes to be observed for side effects of the injection.
Patients are advised to stay off of the affected foot for several days to protect the ankle and to limit activity for a day or so after the injection. Those with jobs requiring frequent walking or standing typically have to take a few days off or find ways to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the ankle until the pain subsides. Dramatic pain relief usually begins one to two days after the injection for most patients.
Injections vary in the amount of discomfort they cause. Some factors that can affect the injection pain include the location of the injection and the size and gauge of the needle. Certain cortisone injections will produce pain no matter what is done. Injections into the sole of the foot are especially painful. By and large, the injections tend to produce pain the most when the cortisone is delivered to a small space.
Cortisone shots will typically cause a temporary flare in pain and inflammation for up to 48 hours after the injection. The use of a cold compress for 20 minutes several times throughout the day and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, will help with this temporary pain and swelling following the ankle injection.
After that, your pain and inflammation of the affected joint should decrease and can last up to several months.
Types of Ankle Injections
The primary types of injections that are used to provide temporary relief from ankle pain are:
Steroid injections (corticosteroid injections) reduce swelling, which alleviates stiffness and pain.
Hyaluronic acid (hyaluronate) injections provide lubrication for the ankle joint. Hyaluronic acid is a jelly-like substance that mimics the viscous synovial fluid that naturally lubricates the ankle joint and plays an essential role in reducing joint inflammation.
How Long Do the Effects of an Ankle Injection Last?
A cortisone injection will usually take a few days to start working, although sometimes they work within a few hours. However, the pain relief from a cortisone injection does not last forever, and its effectiveness will depend on the condition of the joint and the patient’s overall health. Generally, an ankle injection can help reduce or prevent pain for up to 12 weeks. When combined with physical therapy or other rehabilitation treatments, the pain relief may be longer.
Patients receiving repeated injections may notice that the pain relief does not last as long with subsequent injections. This is not because of built-up tolerance to the cortisone but because the joint is getting worse. In general, you should not get more than three or four cortisone injections a year.
Who Can Benefit from Ankle Injections?
Ankle sprains are widespread, and especially experienced by athletes. Long term residual symptoms from ankle sprains that do not heal can result in ongoing problems including pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and the inability to exercise or walk long distances.
An ankle injection is typically suggested for patients who have tried oral medication (NSAIDs), extended rest, or physical therapy, without symptom relief.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies including ankle injections. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.