What are the Types of Injections for Shoulder Arthritis?
Joint injections may help temporarily alleviate shoulder arthritis pain. There are several types of injections used:
- Steroid or cortisone injections
- Hyaluronic acid (HA) injections
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections
- Stem cell injections
Steroid injections are useful in quickly reducing pain and swelling in an arthritic shoulder. Within a few days, patients usually report near complete pain relief and improved shoulder range of motion. Steroid injections can provide relief for several months. These injections are covered by insurance.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) injections, also known as viscosupplementation injections, contain HA, which is a protein found in normal articular cartilage. These injections provide shoulder joint lubrication and have an anti-inflammatory effect in an arthritic joint. The FDA has approved HA injections for the treatment of knee arthritis, but these are currently not approved for the treatment of shoulder arthritis. As such, insurance does not cover them. However, they have been used for the management of shoulder arthritis for years and can provide good relief for up to 6 months or so.
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections have been shown to help decrease inflammation in arthritic joints and help control pain. Currently, insurance is not covering these, as they are considered experimental.
Stem cell injections are not regulated by the FDA. Thus, providers can make unsubstantiated claims about their benefits. Although studies show that stem cell injections do not build new cartilage, there is some evidence that they can decrease inflammation and pain. Currently, insurance is not covering these as they are considered experimental.