Joint pain can be discomfort, pain, or inflammation in any of the joints including hips, shoulders, or knees. Symptoms include joint redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth, limping, locking, decreased range of motion, stiffness, or weakness. To treat joint pain, interventional radiologists perform joint injections or joint aspirations.
Joint injections are performed to treat pain and obtain a diagnosis in joints such as the hips, knees, or shoulders. Joint injections are guided using x-ray or ultrasound imaging, and the medications are administered directly into the joint. A contrast dye is used to ensure the doctor is in the joint.
Joint aspirations are used when there is concern for infection in the joint. This is the process of draining fluid from the joint prior to a steroid injection into the joint. The fluid drained from the joint can be tested for blood cell count or the presence of disease or infections. Joint aspiration can also be used to improve mobility and reduce pain.
Tendons connect muscles to bones and may become painful or inflamed. Tendon conditions may include pain in the achilles (ankle), elbow, hip, knee, or shoulder. To treat chronic tendon pain, interventional radiology uses a procedure called a tenotomy.
A tenotomy is a procedure for a chronically damaged or scarred tendon, known as chronic tendonitis. Conditions that result from chronic tendonitis include plantar fasciitis and tennis elbow. An ultrasound is used to find the tendon that is causing pain. A specialized tool is then placed into the tendon which stimulates healing and reduces pain. Most patients only need a single treatment to drastically reduce or eliminate pain and can return to normal activity in as little as 6 weeks.
Vertebral Compression Fractures
These fractures occur when the vertebral block of the spine collapses, which may cause severe pain, deformity, and loss of height. Symptoms of a vertebral compression fracture include sudden back pain, an increase in pain when standing or walking, a decrease in pain while lying on the back, and limited mobility. Interventional radiologists use a kyphoplasty to treat spine fractures.
A kyphoplasty involves injecting a special cement into the vertebrae. This is used to treat fractures in the spine. A needle is inserted then a balloon-like device inside the needle is inflated to create space in the vertebrae that the cement will fill.
Vertebroplasty is a procedure that involves injecting a special cement into spinal fractures to reduce pain and improve mobility. The injection site is located using image guidance which helps improve accuracy and cement direction.
Painful Bone Lesions/Tumors
When bone cells divide and multiply uncontrollably in condensed areas, a mass of abnormal bone tissue is formed known as a bone lesion. The majority of bone lesions are not life threatening but some could be cancerous. Consistent pain in the bone lesion should be addressed immediately as pain is associated with more malignant lesions.
Cryoablation is a process that destroys masses or tumors through a process of freezing these areas. The mass or tumor is located with a CT or ultrasound imaging. A thin needle is then inserted through the skin into the mass. This needle is pumped with an incredibly cold gas which freezes and kills cells in the mass or tumor.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses a CT scan to guide a small needle or probe to the mass, bone or tumor in question. When the probe is inserted into the mass, a radiofrequency current passes through the probe, heating the mass, which destroys the cells. This type of ablation minimizes the potential for bleeding as radiofrequency waves close up blood vessels. Radiofrequency ablation also helps reduce pain.