Hyaluronate Acid (HA) Injections
Non-Surgical Treatment to Relieve Knee Pain
As a non-surgical alternative for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, patients can consider hyaluronate acid injections (HA injections). These work well for those with mild to moderate knee pain with no significant underlying tissue damage. They help replace the body’s natural lubricant to protect and cushion compromised joints.
HA Injections and Osteoarthritis
Hyaluronate acid injections will replace the natural fluid that has thinned as a result of a patient’s osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the joint begins to break down. Weight-bearing joints like the knee are most prone to osteoarthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 32.5 million adults have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and the need for HA injections can result from age or joint injury.
Osteoarthritis tends to worsen over time, and symptoms commonly start after age 50. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men. In many, symptoms will begin with joint aching and soreness. The knee pain will likely worsen with movement. Pain and stiffness can occur after a period of rest too. You could also notice swelling in the area that was not previously apparent.
What Are Hyaluronate Acid Injections?
Hyaluronic acid is a thick fluid that coats the joints to protect them during movement. The liquid will also act as a shock absorber to limit stress on the cartilage and bone around the knee. When hyaluronic acid decreases in the body, the substance becomes very thin and doesn’t provide much protection. Without lubrication, knee issues start to arise. HA injections give an option for reversing the effects of arthritis.
Hyaluronate acid injections are a treatment method known as viscosupplementation. According to John Hopkins Medicine, viscosupplementation helps replace the missing hyaluronic acid in the joints of patients with osteoarthritis. Viscosupplementation can also be a consideration in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Not all arthritis patients will receive these injections, especially those with pain in other body areas. Arthritis affecting the knee is most often linked to HA injection treatment. The treatment is considered safe for arthritis patients and received approval from the FDA in 1997.
Commercial brand names of related injections include:
Knee Pain Treatments
Hyaluronate acid injections aren’t the typical first line of defense against knee pain. Practitioners will consider injections after over-the-counter pain relievers and rest have proven ineffective. Practitioners will evaluate osteoarthritis symptoms and confirm a diagnosis before recommending injectable therapy. Doctors often perform a physical exam and imaging studies before creating a treatment plan. Imaging studies, including x-rays and MRIs, help physicians evaluate the knee and see how much damage the area has sustained. Only in severe cases would surgery be required to treat the affected joints.
Along with HA injections, practitioners may order physical therapy with muscle-building exercises. Hot and cold treatments can also relieve swelling and discomfort for short periods. Yet, patients looking for more long-term relief will want to discuss options for injections with their doctors.
Before Using HA injections
Before your first appointment for an injection, a practitioner will evaluate your overall health and decide if the treatment is appropriate. Since injections are localized, most current medications are not likely to interfere. Still, a doctor must be made aware of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you’re now taking. Doctors also need to know of any pre-existing conditions and if you have any known allergies.
Practitioners will also review any risks and potential side effects of HA injections. Side effects are rare, but some individuals have pain and swelling after an injection. Effects are usually temporary and go away within a couple of days.
Getting Hyaluronate Acid Injections
These injections are never self-administered and are always given by a licensed practitioner. The medicine gets injected directly into the knee joint. Pain and discomfort don’t typically go away after the initial injection. According to the Mayo Clinic, injections are generally given weekly, and the patient will get three to four shots in total. There isn’t a limit on how many injections you can receive, since the body does not build up any resistance to the acids.
After each shot, staff will tell you to avoid excessive activity that could strain your knee joints. After 48 hours, you can resume normal activity, including any exercise. Outcomes vary from person to person, but many patients feel less pain and discomfort up to six months after receiving the hyaluronate acid injections.
Contact Full Circle Orthopedics
Getting relief for knee pain is only a phone call away. Contact Full Circle Orthopedics to schedule a consultation and determine if HA injections are the proper treatment for you.
What is Hyaluronate?
Hyaluronate is a natural substance that is produced by every joint in your body. In healthy joints, this is a thick fluid with the consistency of egg whites. This fluid is what coats the cartilage surfaces inside your joints so that they can move smoothly. It also acts as a shock absorber, protecting the cartilage and underlying bone.
Why Would I Need Hyaluronate Injections?
When a joint suffers from osteoarthritis, there is less of your body’s natural hyaluronate. The small amount of hyaluronate that is left is so thin and watery that it can no longer lubricate and cushion the joint. This is one of the major causes of knee pain for patients that suffer from osteoarthritis.
How Long Before I Get Relief and How Long Does it Last?
For most people, a series of injections can relieve knee pain for up to a year. Pain relief is not immediate, so it is recommended to continue taking anti-inflammatory and/or pain medicine until the hyaluronate provides relief.
Who Benefits From Hyaluronate Injections?
Hyaluronate benefits people who have not been receiving satisfactory pain relief from simple pain killers or physical therapy. These injections can also be particularly helpful when anti-inflammatory medicines are ineffective, or are interfering with other medicines. Since hyaluronate acts locally, you will probably be able to continue taking any other medications prescribed by your doctor.
How Does Hyaluronate Work?
Your doctor will inject a purified mixture of hyaluronate directly into the knee joint through the side of the knee. By injecting directly into the knee capsule, the fluid coats cartilage surfaces so they can move smoothly against each other and the pain-relieving fluid is concentrated in the knee, not scattered throughout the body.
How Many Injections Can I have?
You can have as many as you want! Since the purified hyaluronate mixture that our doctors use is so similar to the natural substance produced by your own body, it is not possible to build up a resistance or become sensitive to it. After the pain-relieving effects wear off, repeat injections can be given.
How Safe is Hyaluronate and is it Experimental?
The hyaluronate injections are actually very safe because the injected fluid is a natural substance and is very close to the actual fluid that is produced by your body. Hyaluronate is not experimental and has been an approved treatment by the FDA for over fifteen years and has been used to treat millions of patients for severe knee pain. In fact, the doctors at The Florida Knee and Orthopedic Centers have first-hand knowledge about this procedure as they were chosen to participate in the U.S. studies done in 1985.
Schedule Your Hyaluronate Acid (HA) Injections Appointment Today!
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