Evidence-based radiology (part 2): Is there sufficient research to support the use of therapeutic injections into the peripheral joints?

Skeletal Radiol. 2010 Jan;39(1):11-8. doi: 10.1007/s00256-009-0784-9. Epub 2009 Aug 29.


Introduction: This review article addresses the best evidence currently available for the effectiveness of injection therapy for musculoskeletal conditions involving the peripheral joints. The research is presented by anatomical region and areas of controversy and the need for additional research are identified.

Discussion: Randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses and systematic reviews are lacking that address the effectiveness of therapeutic injections to the sternoclavicular, acromioclavicular, ankle and foot joints. No research studies of any kind have been reported for therapeutic injections of the sternoclavicular joint. With the exception of the knee, possibly the hip and patients with inflammatory arthropathies, research does not unequivocally support the use of therapeutic joint injections for most of the peripheral joints, including the shoulder. Additionally, controversy exists in some areas as to whether or not corticosteroids provide better outcomes compared to local anesthetic injections alone.

Conclusion: When viscosupplementation injections are compared to corticosteroids in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, the evidence supports the use of viscosupplementation for more prolonged improvement in outcomes, with corticosteroids being good for short-term relief.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Arthrography*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Joints / drug effects*
  • Pain Measurement


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones