Dealing with knee osteoarthritis usually means dealing with pain and stiffness all day long, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Not only are medications available to be taken by mouth, but knee injections are quickly becoming just as popular. If you are interested in injections for knee osteoarthritis, be sure to talk to your pain management specialist at The Pain Center of Arizona to find out if it is a good option for you.
There are different types of injections that can be especially helpful for patients who haven’t gotten relief from NSAIDs like ibuprofen, or people who can’t take those drugs due to side effects.
It’s important to understand how knee injections work. First, a doctor will inject a shot of anesthetic to numb the knee. Then, a needle may be used to draw out any extra fluid that’s in the knee. After that, the patient will receive the pain-relieving injection, usually just below the kneecap. The shot shouldn’t hurt, and the drug will work throughout the joint.
Different treatments have side effects that patients should discuss with their doctor beforehand. The two most common types of knee injection for OA are corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid.
Corticosteroid injections are useful for treating flare-ups of OA pain and swelling with fluid buildup in the knee. These injections help relieve symptoms by reducing inflammation in the joint.
However, they are not a perfect solution in every case. Those considering this treatment should keep in mind that they work quickly, meaning these injections offer “very rapid” relief, usually within 24 to 48 hours. Also, the benefit is short-term. On average, the pain relief lasts from 6 to 12 weeks, which is long enough to get patients through a flare-up of osteoarthritis until their symptoms subside.
Patients should also not use them frequently. A corticosteroid shot often works best the first time and after that, they tend to give less relief. In most cases, patients are advised to use these shots two to three times a year. Using them too often may damage cells in the knee that make cartilage.
Most of the fluid in a healthy knee is hyaluronic acid but for those who have knee OA, the hyaluronic acid in the knee thins. Doctors can inject more hyaluronic acid into the knee to boost the supply.
Studies have shown that hyaluronic acid injections may help more than pain-relief medications for some people with OA. Other studies have shown they may improve symptoms as well as corticosteroid injections do.
But patients should be aware that it’s often not the first approach due to hyaluronic acid treatments being more expensive. They are often covered by insurance, however. Hyaluronic acid may be suggested to patients if their symptoms aren’t improved by pain-relief medications or non-drug treatments such as heat or ice.
Patients who can’t take pain relievers such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen sodium), or Tylenol (acetaminophen) are encouraged to try hyaluronic acid injections.
Hyaluronic acid injections are often used if a steroid shot doesn’t help enough, or patients and their doctor are concerned about its side-effects.
After an injection, hyaluronic acid helps cushion and lubricate the moving parts within the knee. This effect is fairly short-lived, but the treatment seems to also provide more long-term benefit by relieving pain and inflammation.
Patients may need more than one injection. Five versions of hyaluronic acid injections are available in the U.S. Some types require only one injection while others require up to five injections, usually within a five-week period. If needed, patients can get another shot after six months.
If you suffer from chronic pain due to any condition or injury, find hope at The Pain Center of Arizona! Our dedicated team of board certified pain management physicians will work with you to treat your pain, increase your functionality and quality of life, and get you back into life! We have locations across Arizona, including Phoenix, Anthem, Surprise, Mesa, Gilbert, Deer Valley, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and now Prescott and Tucson! We take multiple insurance plans; click here to see if we take yours! To make an appointment and take the first step toward getting back into life, call us today at 1-888-PAINCENTER. We hope to see you soon!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.