Not every patient has a typical history when it comes to hip pain. If you have arthritis, your pain might be coming from within the joint itself, but there could be other causes, such as impingement, soft tissue problems or even pain arising from the spine. The aim of a hip injection is to identify exactly where your pain is coming from and may even relieve the pain.
The Sulis Hospital Hip Unit is a centre for excellence and our team is highly skilled at diagnosing the source of pain. Our experienced consultants, ward staff and skilled theatre nurses are here to ensure you are fully supported throughout your diagnostic journey – from initial consultation to monitoring your pain after surgery.
Hip injection: A diagnostic and therapeutic procedure
A hip injection can be used to identify or rule out the cause of pain if this isn’t showing up clearly on an X-ray or MRI. A hip injection is also a low-risk strategy for managing some long-term conditions, as it can reduce pain in the hip for several months.
The first step is to book you in for a consultation to assess the nature of your hip pain. We will discuss the activities that make your hip pain worse and what relieves it. This will give us some indication of where your hip pain might be coming from.
Following the initial consultation, we will typically refer you for an X-ray or MRI scan to examine the hip further. Osteoarthritis often appears very clearly on an X-ray, but not always. An MRI scan can enable us to look at the hip joint and soft tissues in more detail.
A hip injection is a step beyond X-Ray and MRI and is used when the source of hip pain is difficult to determine. It involves an injection of anaesthetic and steroid directly into the hip joint.
Your hip injection questions answered
If you have hip pain, a hip injection may be recommended to you as a diagnostic tool to determine the source of pain.
If you have a long-term inflammatory condition, such as arthritis or bursitis, or an injury or tear which is causing you pain, a hip injection could be used to reduce the inflammation and pain, enabling you to enjoy a better quality of life or complete physiotherapy.
A hip injection can reduce pain for several months and your consultant may recommend this as a pain management strategy.
The injections can be given every few months, however, there can be side effects if you have these injections too frequently, so it is recommended that you have no more than three injections per year. Your consultant will be able to discuss a long-term pain management strategy with you. If your condition continues to worsen, your consultant may recommend a total hip replacement as the next step.
We ensure all our patients are fully prepared ahead of any procedure, so your consultant will let you know if there is anything you might need to do ahead of your hip injection. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and make sure a friend or relative is available to help you get home following the surgery, as the anaesthetic can mean it’s unsafe to drive.
A hip injection is exactly as it sounds – an injection into the hip joint – and the procedure typically takes less than an hour. You won’t usually need to be under general anaesthetic, as this procedure is usually under local anaesthetic.
A cleaning solution is applied to the skin, followed by a local anaesthetic which numbs the area. Your surgeon will use an X-ray alongside a ‘contrast medium’ – a substance (usually air or a drug) that helps to define the structures in the hip – to guide the needle accurately into the hip joint. This is a method known as fluoroscopy. Once the needle is in the correct place, a therapeutic substance of long-acting local anaesthetic and steroid is injected into the joint.
A hip injection is a combination of long-acting anaesthetic and steroid. The anaesthetic is used to numb the pain, while the steroid reduces inflammation within the hip joint, which offers longer-term pain relief.
After your hip injection is complete, we dress the skin at the injection site, and you return to the waiting area. After five to ten minutes, the local anaesthetic will have worked, and we can reassess your pain.
A hip injection should provide pain relief, so if you are still experiencing hip pain following the surgery, there must be another cause that will need to be investigated.
Most patients can return home on the same day as their procedure. You may find it difficult to drive, so it’s best to arrange for a friend or relative to come and collect you. Your consultant will be able to advise you on any precautions you will need to take following a hip injection.
As the anaesthetic wears off, you may feel some discomfort at the injection site – holding ice packs on the area can help with this. If the injection was successful in targeting the source of pain, then your hip pain should reduce as the steroid begins to work, which will be around two-five days after the surgery.
We may ask you to keep a diary of your pain, so that we can create a pain management strategy, book you in for additional tests, or recommend further interventions if required.
A hip injection is a relatively low-risk procedure for managing hip pain and most people have the surgery without any complications. However, no procedure is completely risk-free, and the risks do increase the more injections you have (for example, if you are using hip injection as a longer-term pain relief strategy).
Complications can include bruising, nerve pain, thinning of skin at the injection site, skin depigmentation and infection. We make sure you are fully aware of any risks ahead of surgery and your consultant will be able to talk you through the potential complications in detail.
You may be covered by private medical insurance, or you may wish to consider spreading the cost of your surgery by opting for a monthly payment plan.
We aim to make our costs as transparent as possible, but it’s important to talk everything through in detail with your consultant at the time of your appointment. Some costs may be paid directly to the hospital, while others, such as your consultant fees, may be paid directly to the consultant.
Why choose Sulis Hospital Hip Unit?
Sulis Hospital Hip Unit is a specialist unit with internationally recognised surgeons.
Hip pain can be distressing and reduce your mobility, confidence and quality of life. Lengthy waits for surgery can affect your fitness, health and wellbeing. We offer investigation, diagnosis and surgery for hip problems with short waiting times so that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Discover more about hip injections from the experts at Sulis Hospital Bath.
Combining a calming hospital environment with outstanding patient care so you can recover quickly.
Typical hospital stay Daycase
Type of anaesthetic Local
Covered by health insurance? Yes
Can I pay privately? Yes
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