As osteoarthritis develops, you may end up dealing with minor to severe knee pain and stiffness. Without treatment, the discomfort often worsens and makes it difficult to move freely and complete your daily activities. Thankfully, you can look to your Florida orthopedist for potential solutions, including hyaluronic acid injections.
Wondering just how those injections can help you manage your knee osteoarthritis symptoms? Here’s all you need to know about hyaluronic acid injections for knee pain.
How Hyaluronic Acid Injections Help Knee Pain
Osteoarthritis leaves your knees swollen and tender due to the breakdown of cartilage at the ends of your bones. Without that cartilage in place, the bony surfaces have no cushion, allowing them to rub together painfully. Furthermore, this disease decreases the production of joint fluid, called hyaluronan, further increasing wear and tear on your joints.
Although hyaluronic acid injections cannot restore cartilage, this treatment can bring a little bit of cushion back into the equation. Much like hyaluronan, this gel-like substance acts as a lubricant that reduces friction between bony surfaces. Plus, it serves as a shock absorber that decreases impacts with every step you take throughout each day.
Like most treatments for osteoarthritis, your results may vary. Hyaluronic acid injections provide rapid relief for some people while others do not get the desired effects. If they do work, you can expect relief for several months after the last injection. Additional injections can provide pain relief for up to three years, giving you extra time before needing to schedule total knee replacement surgery.
Osteoarthritis Treatments to Try Before Injections for Knee Pain
Since hyaluronic acid injections can only provide relief for several years at the most, orthopedists often want to try other treatments first, such as:
- Over-the-counter pain medication, like Tylenol
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- The prescription anti-depressant, Cymbalta
- Physical and occupational therapy
- At home hot and cold therapy
You may also want to try cortisone injections to see if that helps reduce pain caused by swelling inside the joint.
While trying each pain relief method, you can decrease strain on your joints by making smart lifestyle changes. Losing weight, doing yoga, and completing low-impact daily exercises, for example, can all help decrease stress on your knees.
As you go through each treatment and make lifestyle changes, your orthopedic surgeon in Florida will assess your pain levels, range of motion, and overall mobility. If you’re not getting the right level of relief, then they may try something else, like hyaluronic acid injections.
What to Expect During the Hyaluronic Acid Injection Treatment
If you decide to try hyaluronic acid injections to help manage your knee arthritis symptoms, you will either get one shot or weekly injections across a three to five week period. You’ll need to go in for a quick appointment at your Florida orthopedic office for each injection.
At that visit, your doctor will clean the area with an alcohol pad and determine if your knee has excessive fluid in need of removal. If so, they will inject a local anesthetic, and then remove the excess fluid with a needle to relieve the associated pain and discomfort. This also helps create space in the joint for the hyaluronic acid, which is injected next.
After your appointment, plan to spend a couple days resting up and avoiding high-impact, weight-bearing activities, like climbing stairs, jogging, and dancing. During that time, you may notice some additional swelling and pain, which will help to remind you to stay off your feet during this short recovery period.
How Long It Takes for Hyaluronic Acid Injections to Work
Although the pain and swelling from the hyaluronic acid injection will dissipate in a couple of days, it can take up to four weeks for the treatment to start working. If it helps, you will likely feel much less pain and discomfort for anywhere from two to six months after the last injection in the series.
You can then go in for additional injections that help extend the relief, although you’ll likely need total knee replacement surgery in the future. Your orthopedic surgeon will help you understand how to best move forward in managing your osteoarthritis symptoms, including if surgery is the right choice for you.
Ready to Discuss Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Pain?
If you’re experiencing knee pain from osteoarthritis or any other cause, our team at Full Circle Orthopedics is here to help. Our orthopedic surgeons can assess your knee pain and help you find the right treatment, so you can regain your mobility and overall quality of life. We make it easy, too. You can just fill out our form or call 727-513-7277 to schedule your free online evaluation. We look forward to helping you live pain-free and get back to all your daily activities, so give us a call today to get started.