Osteoarthritis is the most popular form of arthritis. It is a degenerative condition that occurs when the protective cartilage cushioning your bones wears down over time. While it is impossible to reverse the damage, you can manage the symptoms through exercise, a healthy diet, medication and viscosupplementation. In this blog, we will be focusing on viscosupplements, particularly hyaluronic acid injections.
What are hyaluronic acid injections?
Our bodies naturally make hyaluronic acid to help lubricate and cushion our joints. However, as we age, its production significantly reduces. These injections help add to your body’s supply of hyaluronic acid and help maintain the fluid in your joints. They are particularly beneficial in cases where painkillers and other treatments are ineffective.
What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid injections?
Hyaluronic acid or hyaluronan has a high viscosity, which allows it to provide great shock absorption and lubrication to the knee joints. It helps reduce friction in the joints, therefore reducing pain, stiffness and further loss of cartilage and bone.
In some cases, hyaluronic acid molecules create a boundary around nerve endings in the knee that prevent pain signals from being transmitted to the brain. Reduced friction in the knee also goes a long way in preventing pain.
Minimal side effects:
Hyaluronic acid injections offer little to no side effects compared to steroid injections. After an injection, you might experience minor pain and little joint fluid build-up, but these short term side effects get better within a few days. In rare cases, the injection can cause increased inflammation, in which case a doctor will cease treatment immediately.
Minimal recovery time:
You should be able to continue with your daily activities immediately after getting an injection. However, avoid strenuous activities such as running and heavy lifting for about two days after the injections.
How long do hyaluronic injections last?
These injections offer relief for four to six months. That being said, it is important to note that it may take a few weeks for the injection to take effect. You will require one injection every week for three to four weeks.
Are hyaluronic injections an alternative to knee surgery?
Hyaluronic acid injections are mainly used to alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms. Many patients end up getting knee surgery in the future, but these injections help buy them a few years before that happens. This time allows them to mentally and financially prepare for surgery.
If this is a treatment plan you would like to explore, get in touch with us to arrange a personal, video or telephone consultation.