First of all in answer to the initial questions; no it is not at all painful, and yes it is very effective.
In this post I would like to try to allay any fears or anxieties that other RA sufferers may have concerning this type of treatment. I can confirm that it is both effective and painless, and if it is offered as an option by your specialist, don’t be at all concerned about the treatment process itself.
To illustrate and confirm my experience of this process, I filmed my last treatment (with the kind permission of my rheumatologist) in its entirety and embedded the video into this post ;-)
I experienced no pain during the entire process and was quite comfortable making this film at the same time :-)
I’ve had direct corticosteroid injection treatment for a number of my joints over the last 28 years or so including wrists, fingers, feet and toes. However, most of the treatments have been to my knees.
Aspiration & Treatment of Joint Inflammation for Rheumatoid Arthritis – My Experience
In all cases, I’ve never experienced any pain whatsoever, in fact just the opposite; the relief from pressure during aspiration is very welcome and the pain relief following injection begins to take effect within minutes. During the following two or three days, the inflammation reduces to zero, the pain all but disappears, and of course so too the heat, stiffness and associated flu symptoms.
I’ve had these treatments performed by three separate rheumatologists over the years and in each case the results were the same; no pain or discomfort. So, take any negative comments that you read in forums, see in videos on YouTube, or that people say, with a pinch of salt (sea salt of course!), the truth is plain to see in my video above.
Prior to writing this post, I carried out some online research into people’s reported experiences of various types of joint aspiration including knee aspiration, and unfortunately there appeared to be a fair amount of exaggeration and scare-mongering regarding the treatment process itself and also the level of pain. Most of this appeared to be generated by people who have never experienced the treatment themselves or by people (almost exclusively blokes!) who had enhanced or exaggerated the level of pain ;-)
For example, I read a genuine RA sufferer’s post in a forum asking a question about this form of treatment, and most of the responses were uninformed and unhelpful to say the least. It’s of no help to say “I’ve heard that the needles are really big!” or “A mate of mine had his knee done after a football injury, he said it was really painful and the doctor spent ages poking around with the syringe…”
A sufferer who is considering this treatment needs reassurance and confirmation that the process is painless and effective, not hearsay. The facts are; it is not painful, it is very effective, it takes no more than a couple of minutes to complete, you can walk out of the surgery on your own feet, and you may even get a sweet! ;-) Of course it’s necessary to use an experienced and skilled rheumatologist, I would not advise using a GP or other type of doctor.
Why Do I Need This Treatment if My Anti-Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet Works So Well?
Unfortunately, as I have often mentioned in my posts, in the real world it is sometimes difficult for me to stick closely to my diet. This is often because of work pressures and other factors which mean that I sometimes drift away from my diet in order to complete IT projects on time or because of working long hours on-site.
When I drift away from my diet for a short time (even up to a few weeks) and begin to experience a few early RA symptoms, I can usually correct them by returning to my diet. However, if the stress/pressure is prolonged and I keep pushing my luck (kneeling down too much, crawling about under desks routing cables etc.), after some time the joint inflammation and heat (usually in my left knee) reaches a point where I can’t reverse it using my diet (entirely my own fault) and I have to obtain direct treatment from my specialist.
Anyone who has tried to lose weight by following a strict diet will understand exactly what I mean, as will anyone who has tried to train for a sports event for example. The fact is in real life factors outside your control can drain your will power, energy and time and prevent you from looking after your own health.