Osteoarthritis of the knee can lead to chronic pain, frustrating stiffness, and diminished ability to do the things you love. It can even affect your ability to get around normally. While many different treatments for knee osteoarthritis and other knee pain exist — including oral pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, and dietary changes — hyaluronate injections are a valuable option.
These injections, also called viscosupplements, involve putting a natural-like gel into your knee joint. This gel is much like the naturally occurring hyaluronic acid found in the synovial fluid that normally surrounds your joints. Hyaluronan in the injections acts like a shock absorber and lubricant.
This lubricant can help make painful joints move more smoothly, reducing discomfort and helping improve function. The injections can be a boon for some people, but they simply don’t work for everyone. Read on to learn if it’s a treatment you should talk to us about trying.
Research shows that between 30% and 40% of patients given hyaluronate knee injections do not experience a reduction in pain or improvement in function as a result. In people for whom the injections work, however, they can be more effective than medications. Why some people feel better after the injections and others do not isn’t entirely clear.
When the injections do work to decrease pain and improve function, they still don’t halt the progression of disease. Hyaluronate knee injections can help you feel better, but they can’t change the underlying cause of your osteoarthritis.
For those who do find relief from hyaluronate knee injections, results appear between 4-12 weeks after the first injection. Your relief can last up to six months, and some people get a benefit for even longer.
The people who do seem to respond best to hyaluronate knee injections are of normal weight and have only the beginning stages of osteoarthritis. The injections are most effective in people with just mild to moderate arthritis. If you’re highly overweight or obese and have advanced osteoarthritis, the injections are less effective.
Hyaluronate injections also seem more effective on people younger than 65. If you’ve never had treatment with hyaluronate or steroid shots, you’re also a better candidate.
Hyaluronate injections offer a viable alternative to oral medications, which can have unwanted side effects or are completely ineffective for some people. If your arthritis does respond, the injections offer a very real solution to help you delay surgery or allow you to feel less pain as you wait for surgery to resolve your arthritis pain.
Some research also suggests that the injections can encourage your body to produce more of the substance naturally, which only helps keep remaining cartilage healthy and preserves knee function.
To learn about hyaluronate knee injections and other therapies for your knee pain, call Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, or book a consultation using this website. We strive to help people in the Phoenix area overcome pain and dysfunction in joints so they can resume a high quality of life.