Those with arthritis suffer from significant pain. For many, that pain limits their ability to do activities they enjoy, including interacting with loved ones, physical activities, and, sometimes, just getting around the house. One of the potential treatment options for many is the use of knee injections. These help to lessen symptoms. Yet, many are simply not sure if they are right for their situation. How long do knee injections last? Are they the right option for you?
Why Are Knee Injections Necessary?
Osteoarthritis is a type of progressive and debilitating condition impacting the joints. For many, it occurs in the knee joints. In the knee joint, there is a small disc that works as a type of cushion between the bones. This helps prevent the bones from rubbing back and forth against each other. When the disc or the surrounding cartilage breaks down, there’s no cushion left. This causes the bones to begin to rub, creating intense pain.
Knee pain and discomfort like this is not uncommon. In fact, it impacts 32.5 million adults in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A person may be at risk for developing this condition if they have a joint injury or overuse it. Those who are older are more at risk, and this condition impacts more women than men. Those who have a family history of knee pain or those who are overweight may also be at a higher risk.
What Type of Injections Are There?
For many people, the first step is to use over-the-counter pain medications. These may offer some help by alleviating symptoms. This often doesn’t help for long. Instead, doctors may recommend the use of knee injections, which are corticosteroids. As noted by the U.S. Library of Medicine, these shots are used in the joint to reduce swelling and pain. They can also help to minimize the amount of damage occurring to the bones. This is the most common type of shot to the knee.
There are other options, though. For example, some doctors may recommend the use of hyaluronic acid as an injection into the knee. This is the substance that is already in the joint, and it helps with lubrication and movement of the joint. Those who have arthritis typically do not have as much hyaluronic acid present. That means the lubrication is less. Not everyone benefits from this type of treatment option.
Stem cell injections are a newer and less used type of knee injection. These are used as a way to encourage the development of healthy cells in the joint. Though less common, they may be something patients wish to speak to their dentist about.
Who Benefits from the Use of Knee Injections?
Your doctor may recommend the use of these injections if you are struggling with pain and discomfort due to the breakdown of cartilage in the knee joint. This is generally the case after other types of treatment, such as physical therapy, weight loss if applicable, and pain medications are no longer working to provide you relief when walking or otherwise using your joints.
How Long Do Knee Injections Last?
The key question is, how long do knee injections last once a person fits the profile for needing them. Most of the time, the injection of corticosteroids can provide some relief from pain. Most of the pain is initially – within the first few weeks. Most people see pain lessening and their mobility improving for several months, often as much as 6 months.
The key concern here is that the use of these knee injections has to be limited because of the medication within them. They can only be used 2 or 3 times a year for most people. Your doctor can provide specific information about how frequently you are able to obtain these knee injections safely.
While the pain relief from knee injections can provide enhanced mobility for several months and let people enjoy life like they used to, there is no evidence that the use of knee injections will provide a long term benefit. That is, once the injection wears off within 6 to 8 months, the pain may return. A study noted by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases found that injections do not create long-term benefits. It offers more of a short term solution to the symptoms a person has.
Are Knee Injections Worth It?
For most people, the answer to this is yes. Most often, knee injections create a minimal amount of discomfort when they are placed. Once they are in place, they do not create any type of pain or discomfort for most. The risks of adverse reactions are low.
At the same time, many people find that the procedure offers them pain relief that lasts for months. As a result, they can move their joints, walk longer, and even feel less stiff, engaging in activities they love. As noted, injections do not cure the condition. They do not solve the underlying problem that there is less cartilage present. Yet, they can help people to be able to move more readily and improve their quality of life.
Once the benefits of these injections wear off, you and your doctor may need to discuss the options for other treatments, including the use of surgical procedures to replace or repair the knee joint.
Get Pain Relief with Knee Injections from Full Circle Orthopedics
At Full Circle Orthopedics, our doctors were one of the first to participate in studies on hyaluronate acid knee injections. Our experience makes us the best choice for patients that are suffering from knee pain. If you’re looking for a solution to knee pain, schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to create a treatment plan that works for you.