Hyaluronic acid injections are often used to treat knee osteoarthritis pain. Otherwise known as the viscosupplementation treatment method, hyaluronic acid injections are administered into the knee joints to help improve the mobility and function of the knee, while simultaneously working to minimize your knee pain.
Depending upon the brand of hyaluronic acid your doctor uses will determine the number of shots you’ll receive. Regardless of the brand used, all hyaluronic acid injections are administered by first your doctor cleaning the area, removing any excess fluid in your knee (if applicable), and then with the same needle injecting the hyaluronic acid into the knee joint.
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Millions of Americans each year suffer from knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis can occur in the knee as a result of the hyaluronic acid that is naturally produced in your affected joint thins, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
The human body naturally makes hyaluronic acid on its own. This substance is a fluid that assists in providing cushioning and lubrication to your joints so they function smoothly, free from unwanted friction. However, as the body ages, the natural hyaluronic acid production decreases, which can result in the thinning of the hyaluronic acid found in your knee joints.
Therefore, hyaluronic acid injections add to your body’s natural supply in your joints to help minimize pain caused by a lack of HA in the joint. The administration of hyaluronic acid injections may be referred to as “viscosupplementation”. This is another term to describe this treatment method which means helping the fluid in your joints.
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, hyaluronic acid injections may benefit those who have tried other nonsurgical treatment options without much improvement to their knee pain. For instance, in the early stages of knee osteoarthritis, there are a variety of nonsurgical treatment options that your doctor may recommend to help manage your knee pain, such as:
- Weight Loss
- Pain Relievers
- Physical Therapy
- Corticosteroid Injections
- Adjusting your daily activities
- Applying Heat or Ice to the affected knee
Hyaluronic acid injections are often administered if people don’t see improvement in the above treatment options. Likewise, HA injections are a common next treatment option for individuals who cannot take painkillers, or for those who cannot/ don’t want total knee replacement surgery to better manage their knee pain.
Viscosupplementation, or administering hyaluronic acid injections into the knee, aims to add lubricants for your joints to move more smoothly and better withstand the “shock” or wear or tear your joints experience during daily activities. The belief is that those who suffer from osteoarthritis tend to have lower amounts of hyaluronic acid produced in their joints. Thus, by adding to the natural supply of the hyaluronic acid your body produces, the goal is to improve movement and better manage knee pain.
Brands of Hyaluronic Acid Injections
There are a variety of brands of hyaluronic acid injections that your doctor may use to help relieve your chronic knee pain. These brands include:
- Synvisc, Synvisc-One
Depending on the brand of HA injections used will determine how many injections you need to get. Again, regardless of the brand used, all HA injections are administered the same way.
What Conditions Does Hyaluronic Acid Injections Treat?
Hyaluronic Acid injections are primarily used to treat knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that can happen to anyone. However, most people who suffer from osteoarthritis are older and develop worsening symptoms as they age.
Women are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than men, especially women who or older than 50 and have gone through menopause.
That being said, younger people can suffer from osteoarthritis, mainly due to:
- A joint injury (i.e. a sports-related injury of the knee joint).
- An abnormal joint structure wore down from daily activity.
- A birth defect in the joint cartilage.
Therefore, although osteoarthritis tends to develop and worsen as people age, younger individuals can also suffer from osteoarthritis.
Often, symptoms of osteoarthritis are gradual and worsen with time. Symptoms may also start in just one or a couple of joints, and slowly impact other joints in time.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Pain: Experiencing pain while using the joint. You may experience relief while sitting down/ resting while the joint is inactive. As osteoarthritis progresses, individuals may experience more intense pain at night, impacting their ability to fall and stay asleep. Pain can also be felt in one particular region, or widespread among the body.
- Stiffness: Joint stiffness is often experienced after resting/ not using the joint or in the morning time. It usually takes about 30 minutes of movement/ use of the joint to relieve stiffness.
- Lack of Mobility: The inability to move the joint as you used to results in a lack of normal function and mobility.
- Swelling: Experiencing swelling in the affected joint or the surrounding area of the affected joint. This is often associated with excessive use or activity that involves the affected joint area.
- Instability: The joint feels unstable when in use or loose, such as when bearing weight on the joint or during an activity that involves movement of the affected joint.
Overall, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can greatly impact one’s quality of life, especially as often symptoms can worsen with time. As osteoarthritis develops, many daily activities such as climbing stairs or getting up off a chair can become troublesome and painful.
Over time if left untreated, constantly dealing with these painful symptoms of osteoarthritis can lead to negative psychological symptoms like feeling tired or depressed. Hyaluronic acid injections can be a beneficial next step in treating your knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, especially if past non-surgical treatment options haven’t been successful.
How Long Do Hyaluronic Acid Injections Work?
The effectiveness and length of time hyaluronic acid injections can provide pain relief varies from patient to patient. However, most patients who have hyaluronic acid injections experience pain relief for about 4 to 6 months at a time.
Therefore, hyaluronic acid injections provide a relatively long-term treatment option for those looking for chronic knee pain relief. Typically, many patients will get more hyaluronic acid injections about every six months to better manage their pain.
Hyaluronic acid injections can be a great treatment option for those looking to delay or avoid knee replacement surgery. This is because HA injections can often provide an effective non-surgical treatment option for those suffering from knee pain, without having to undergo a costly, risky surgery.
Who is the Right Candidate to get Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis?
Hyaluronic acid injections are a great next step for those who have tried other non-surgical treatment options to reduce their pain, without much success. And, for patients who want to effectively reduce their knee pain symptoms, without undergoing knee replacement surgery.
If you experience knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, and your symptoms impact your daily life, HA injections can be an effective treatment option.
Anyone at any age can get hyaluronic acid injections; however, it’s recommended that people under the age of 65 are the best candidates for this treatment.
Likewise, other people who are not good candidates for hyaluronic acid injections include:
- Pregnant women, or breast-feeding women
- Individuals who have a bacterial infection involving the affected knee.
- Individuals who have an allergy to products containing hyaluronate.
What to Expect During your Viscosupplementation Treatment?
Viscosupplementation is a treatment option that can help those suffering from knee pain from osteoarthritis. The procedure involves hyaluronic acid being injected into the affected knee joint. The hyaluronic acid injections will act as an additional lubricant to the natural hyaluronic acid already naturally occurring in the body.
Most hyaluronic acid injections are about 2 mL and are injected into the knee joint capsule of the knee you are experiencing pain and discomfort. You may need to receive several injections, on different days, depending on the brand of the HA injections your doctor uses.
If you do require more than one injection, each injection is often administered one week apart.
What is the Recovery Time After your Viscosupplementation Treatment?
Most patients can go home shortly after their viscosupplementation treatment. Therefore, there is not much downtime needed. However, it is advised after 48 hours of the procedure that you refrain from standing for long periods at a time, or any intense physical activity like running or lifting weights.
Side effects like pain in the affected knee area and swelling are common and typically go away on their own. Consider using an ice pack to reduce any swelling after the viscosupplementation treatment. If you notice any side effects post-procedure that don’t seem to go away, or worsen with time, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.
Likewise, if you require more than one hyaluronic acid injection treatment session, try not to cancel any upcoming appointments. Otherwise, the treatment may not work as effectively at reducing your knee pain if you don’t follow through with the full series of HA injections your doctor recommends.
When will I start seeing improvement after the Hyaluronic Acid Injections?
Do not expect immediate results right after your hyaluronic acid injection appointment. It may take at least a few weeks after your viscosupplementation treatment to start seeing noticeable results in minimizing your knee pain. Likewise, don’t expect to feel noticeable differences in your pain until all the series of injections have been administered.
Every HA injection appointment recommended is crucial in relieving your pain. Failing to follow through with all your injection appointments may lead to less effective results in improving your knee pain and function.
Hyaluronic acid injections are not for everyone, and some patients may not see significant improvements in their knee pain. Nevertheless, if you do experience improvements in your knee pain after your HA injections, you can repeat the same process about six months after your last treatment.
If you don’t see improvements in your knee osteoarthritis symptoms following the full series of HA injections, talk to your doctor about other treatment options that can work to manage your pain, such as knee replacement surgery.
Are there any Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid Injections?
Although hyaluronic acid injections can be a safe and effective way to resolve chronic knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, there are potential side effects patients need to be aware of. Potential side effects you may experience after your viscosupplementation treatment include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Allergic Reaction to injections
- Shortness of Breath
Contact your doctor if you happen to experience any of these side effects after your viscosupplementation treatment, especially if they don’t go away on their own after a short period of time.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections Treatment Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Our experienced team of medical professionals will create a tailored treatment plan to help minimize your pain symptoms so you can get back to living a happy, healthy life. You can call (301) 703-8767 (for your Viscosupplementation treatment Maryland), (724) 603-3560 (for your Viscosupplementation treatment Pennsylvania), or (540) 433-1905 (for your Viscosupplementation treatment Virginia)
We believe that comprehensive pain management treatments are the best way to achieve long-term pain relief and recovery. Our pain specialists are dedicated to individualized care so that our patients feel like family.
Treatments We Offer
- Spinal Cord Stimulation
- Injection Therapies
- Medication Management
- Intrathecal Pumps
- Occipital Nerve Blocks
- Alternative Therapies
- Radio Frequency Ablation
- Trigger Point Injections
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- SGB Injection for PTSD
- MILD (Lumbar Decompression
- Minuteman Spinal Fusion
- Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
- Lumbar Sympathetic Block
- Stellate Ganglion Blocks
- HA Injections