Hydrodistension injections

What is a hydrodistension injection?

Hydrodistension or High Volume injections are performed under ultrasound guidance with the aim of precisely depositing anti-inflammatory steroid, local anaesthetic and saline to give pain relief whilst also deliberately stretching the lining of the joint (joint capsule). This procedure is increasingly used in the treatment of ‘frozen shoulder’ (adhesive capsulitis) and has been shown to be effective in the majority of patients by giving pain relief and also helping them to regain movement. These injections can give rapid and effective reduction in pain and inflammation; however, improvements are usually temporary. As with all medicines, some people may experience side effects.

How successful is it? 

Several studies have shown that ultrasound guided shoulder joint hydrodistention can help reduce patients’ pain and improve their range of motion. This technique is performed under aseptic conditions and a local anaesthetic is injected into the shoulder joint usually combined with a steroid joint and the needle is guided by the ultrasound images.

Will it be painful?You may feel mild discomfort during the procedure and a fullness or heaviness as the joint is filled. After the examination, you may experience swelling and discomfort. These symptoms usually disappear after 48 hours and, if necessary, you may take your usual painkillers.

What are the risks and benefits of this procedure?

The benefit of this treatment is that it should reduce the pain and discomfort in your shoulder and help with movements.  There is a small risk of infection when a needle is placed in a joint but we minimise the risk by using an aseptic technique. However, if you experience redness, persistent pain or swelling after the procedure, you should contact your GP or go to your nearest accident and emergency department.

Everything you need to know about Hydrodistension injections is in the information leaflet that you will be sent prior to your appointment.