Soft Tissue Injection for Pain: Care Instructions

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Soft tissue injections are shots into an area of the body that is not a bone or a joint. They may be used in areas such as a tendon, a muscle, or a bursa. (A bursa is a sac of fluid that cushions and lubricates areas where tendons, ligaments, skin, muscles, or bones rub against each other.) These injections are often used to treat problems such as inflamed tendons (tendinitis) and bursas (bursitis).

These shots may be used to put in one or more medicines. Examples are local anesthetics that can help with short-term pain relief or steroid medicines that can give longer-term relief. Steroids don't always relieve pain. And when they do, it can take a few days to work. But when they work, the pain relief can last for several days to a few months.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, if needed. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Avoid strenuous activities for as long as you have pain. In particular, avoid ones that put stress on the area where you got the shot.
  • If you have a bandage over the area, keep it clean and dry. You can remove it when your doctor tells you to.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.