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A few thoughts on injections

No one likes needles, or at least that is the impression we get: shots are no fun. Even though corticosteroid injections are frequently offered as first-line treatment for a variety of foot and ankle conditions, most, if not all, patients, seem uncertain, or respond with trepidation, about the use of such a treatment for their own pain. Even though there is a great chance for relief of symptoms, the simple fear of a shot prevents some from going through with a treatment that would otherwise bring relief.


Other than two or three ingrown toenails, I must admit that I’ve never had any of the conditions or pathology requiring the therapeutic and diagnostic injections I frequently give in clinic. Despite this lack of full understanding, I do have experience with needles to at least understand that needles aren’t fun. I donated plasma over one hundred times in college and then, to bring it closer to the foot, I had my big toes anesthetized prior to having part of my toenail removed. Next, we had to be each other’s guinea pig in podiatry school when we first learned to numb a toe. With each experience, I learned that the pain of the injection was fleeting and the reward almost sure, at least when it came to a toe block.

So yes, my best experiences with needles have been to block pain prior to a procedure. Just like my first toe block, when I was 15 years old, my most recent block (several years ago now) was a success. The needle did its job, and little pinch, and a burn and then numbness. No feeling of pain, just pressure.

Whether it is a nerve block prior to a procedure, or a steroid injection, when asked “is it worth it?” I say that it is worth it, despite the pain.