Soft tissue injections in the athlete

Sports Health. 2009 Sep;1(5):396-404. doi: 10.1177/1941738109343159.


Background: Injections into or adjacent to soft tissue structures, including muscle, tendon, bursa, and fascia, for pain relief and an earlier return to play have become common in the field of sports medicine.

Study design: Clinical review.

Results: Corticosteroids, local anesthetics, and ketorolac tromethamine (Toradol) are the most commonly used injectable agents in athletes. The use of these injectable agents have proven efficacy in some disorders, whereas the clinical benefit for others remain questionable. All soft tissue injections performed for pain control and/or an anti-inflammatory effect have potentially serious side effects, which must be considered, especially in the pregame setting.

Conclusions: The primary concern regarding corticosteroid and local anesthetic injections is an increased risk of tendon rupture associated with the direct injection into the tendon. Intramuscular Toradol injections provide significant analgesia, as well as an anti-inflammatory effect via its inhibitory effect on the cyclooxygenase pathway. The risk of bleeding associated with Toradol use is recognized but not accurately quantified.

Keywords: athletes; injection; soft tissue.