If you have a chronic condition – such as arthritis – that causes pain and inflammation in the knee, it can be difficult to complete everyday tasks without enduring significant discomfort.
Methods to Reduce Knee Pain & Inflammation
One of the ways to relieve these debilitating symptoms is to have treatment injected directly into the knee. In this article, we’ll explore the options available, plus their benefits and potential drawbacks.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
If oral treatments for knee pain and inflammation are no longer effective or come with unpleasant side-effects, patients may benefit from injections of hyaluronic acid.
While not strictly a medication, naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid – under brand names such as Orthovisc, Synvisc or Hyalgan – works as a lubricant and shock-absorber, helping joints to move smoothly.
Hyaluronic acid is already present in healthy knee joints, but in people living with arthritis, it has been found that hyaluronic acid has the tendency to break down, which means that movement of the knee can cause further damage to the joint.
Injecting hyaluronic acid into a joint with arthritic involvement has been known to reduce pain and inflammation. If successful, it can prevent further wear and tear of the affected joint – averting or eliminating the need for more invasive treatment.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections Drawbacks
There are potential drawbacks, however. One treatment cycle may take up to five weeks to complete. As such, the full therapeutic effect may not be felt for several weeks. This can be frustrating for patients, so it’s important for clinicians to explain the process before proceeding.
Finally, some patients have experienced increased swelling and pain after receiving hyaluronic acid injections, although this is rare. Common side effects include mild swelling and transient pain at the site of the injection, a temporary feeling of warmth in the joint, and mild bruising.
Who Should Get Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid injections are a good choice for people who are no longer able to manage their symptoms with painkillers and are looking for a longer-lasting treatment than corticosteroids.
Patients must be prepared to wait for the injections to reach their full potential, and communication with the clinician is key to managing patient expectations. Taking time to do independent research prior to starting treatment also gives patients an idea of what they can expect.
If you’re considering hyaluronic acid injections or any other treatment for knee pain, click here to find out more about your options.
Another option for people with knee pain is to have corticosteroid injections directly into the joint. Corticosteroids work much faster than hyaluronic acid injections, with relief from symptoms tending to be almost instantaneous. However, the duration of relief is much shorter than that offered by hyaluronic acid injections.
The therapeutic benefits of corticosteroid injections can go even further than relief of pain. For some patients, this treatment also encourages improved movement in the joint.
However, other recipients of corticosteroid treatment experience no improvement in their symptoms. A minority may even find that injections have a detrimental effect on the health of their knee joints.
Corticosteroid Injections Side Effects
Prolonged use of corticosteroid injections can contribute to cartilage breakdown over the longer-term. For this reason, clinicians tend to limit the number of injections a patient can receive, and closely monitor the condition of the knee to prevent unnecessary damage.
There are several potential side effects to corticosteroid therapy. Infection at the site of the injection is not uncommon, and some patients have experienced irritation of the knee joint.
Less common side effects include damage to the nerves around the injection site, decreased density of bones in the surrounding area, and increased blood sugar. Clinicians working with diabetic patients must be particularly cautious when using this treatment.
Despite the potential drawbacks, corticosteroid injections remain a popular treatment option for patients with chronic knee pain – particularly those suffering from osteoarthritis.
The instantaneous nature of results also makes this treatment a good choice for patients experiencing an intense, acute escalation of pain and swelling symptoms.
Contact Us for Lasting Knee Pain & Inflammation Relief
If you are experiencing knee pain or inflammation, speak with us today about the treatment options available. Contact our office to learn more or to book your consultation.