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Joint Injections

Joint injections are used to treat children with arthritis. High-dose steroids are directly injected into the diseased joint spaces.

About this Treatment

About this Treatment

How do we perform a joint injection?

A radiologist will use ultrasound, x-rays or a CT scanned image to guide a needle into the joint space. Contrast dye may be injected to confirm proper location of the needle. Liquid steroid medication is then injected until there is proper filling of the joint space. The needle will be removed and a bandage will be placed.

How long does the joint injection procedure take?

A typical joint injection takes approximately less than one hour.

Will my child be awake for the joint injection procedure?

Joint injections are fairly fast procedures and often multiple joints are treated. Your child will likely be kept awake and change positions during the procedure. The physician may choose to put your child to sleep for which intravenous sedation or general anesthesia will be administered.

Will my child feel any pain during a joint injection procedure?

Pain and discomfort are common during the individual injections and the use of local anesthesia is not routinely indicated. Some children will have a sensation of fullness in and around the joint space until all the medication is absorbed into the body. Over-the-counter pain medication helps with pain and discomfort. The injection site may also be swollen for a couple days following the procedure but usually returns to normal within a week.

What are the risks of joint injections?

Joint injections are considered low-risk procedures. However, potential complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to contrast dye
  • Nerve injury

Pre and Post Operative Care

Pre and Post Operative Care

How do my child and I prepare for the joint injection procedure?

We encourage good communication between you and your child about the procedure, the reason for it and ensuring them that you will be close by the entire time.  Holding them or their hands until they leave for the procedure is a great way to provide support.

You will be given specific instructions along the way but you may need to arrive a few hours before the scheduled procedure to have some blood tests done. When you arrive at the hospital, a doctor will review the procedure and associated risks, after which you will sign a consent form. When we are ready to get started with the procedure, a nurse will place an intravenous line to deliver sedating medications and you will be allowed to accompany your child in the operating room until they are asleep, after which you will be escorted to a waiting room.

When can my child bathe after joint injections?

The bandages and any dressing covering the injection site should stay clean and dry for 24 hours. After this, your child can shower or take a bath and the bandage(s) can be removed.

When can my child resume normal activity after joint injections?

We recommend complete bed rest for the remainder of the day. The next day, your child may resume school-going, daycare attendance, and normal light activities but must refrain from intense physical activity like contact sports and rough playing for about one week.


  • • Redness, pain, swelling, or bruising at the needle insertion site.
  • • Fever higher than 101° Fahrenheit or 38° Celsius.
  • • A change in color or temperature to the associated extremity.
  • • Numbness, swelling, or pain of the associated extremity.

The Department of Interventional Radiology can be reached at: 202-476-3791, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

At all other times please call 202-259-8643, which is the on-call pager. Follow the instructions and wait for a call back.



Interventional Radiology

Children’s National interventional radiologists perform a full range of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to both diagnose and treat disease in infants, children, and adolescents.

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