What is a subacromial injection?
A subacromial injection is a combination of corticosteroids and anesthetic injected into the subacromial space of the shoulder joint. This space is located below (sub-) the acromion, the highest part of the shoulder blade (scapula), and the ball shaped head of the upper arm bone (humerus). The anesthetic is temporary and only last a few days to offer some relief to the patient while the anti-inflammatory properties of the steroid do their work on the joint.
When is a subacromial injection needed?
A subacromial injection would be utilized for inflammatory conditions of the shoulder to relief pressure on the shoulder joint capsule and allow the tendons, bones, and ligaments, to do their work without being impeded. Of course, a subacromial injection is going to come after first aid measures such as rest, ice, compression, elevation and NSAID use. Many times, first aid will help, but other times these measures will fail to offer relief and a specialist can be considered. Conditions that are often encountered by orthopedic specialists that would require a subacromial injection are shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tendonitis, and frozen shoulders (adhesive capsulitis). These conditions cause painful inflammation in the shoulder joint that can respond will to a subacromial injection.
How is a subacromial injection preformed?
If you are experiencing issues that a medical provider deems appropriate for subacromial injection, then with your permission they will clean and anesthetize the injection site in preparation for the injection. A subacromial injection can be done from front, side, or back of the shoulder depending on physician training or preference. The physician carefully inserts a needle into the joint space in the shoulder and injects the cortisone/pain relief solution. The solution goes into the joint space to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint. The area can become tender from the injection and you may wish to ice the shoulder after injection. It is recommended that you rest for a few days from activities that cause issue to allow the area to heal without being agitated. If a injection fails to provide relief then your condition has progressed too far to be treated conservatively and surgical intervention will be recommended if other treatments would not be appropriate.
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