Treatment of early stage knee osteoarthritis (OA) in a professional pain management center usually begins with over-the-counter pain relievers, and exercise or weight loss. If these measures do not work, the orthopaedist will recommend knee injections. Injection therapy for OA knee pain works for many people. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of injections to treat knee OA – hyaluronic acid and corticosteroids. Let’s see how these injections work.
Hyaluronic Acid Supplements (viscosupplementation)
Hyaluronic acid is a gel-like substance that the body produces naturally. It lubricates he joints and helps them work properly. People with OA suffer a breakdown of this natural lubricant or shock absorber. Viscosupplementation or injection of hyaluronic acid supplements directly into the knees can restore what is lost.
Before the injection, the physician will first remove a small amount of joint fluid with a needle to bring down the swelling and make space for the hyaluronic acid. The injection will be given once a week for 1 to 5 weeks, and the number of injections neededdepend on the product used. Hyaluronic acid injections
- Lubricate the joint
- Lessen joint pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Protect the cartilage from further wear and tear
Injection of corticosteroids directly into the knee joint is also an effective option to address knee pain and inflammation quickly. Steroid medicines behave like the steroid hormone cortisol which is naturally produced by the adrenal glands. The FDA has approved five different steroid medications for OA treatment.
The physician may inject a local anesthetic to numb the knee area before administering the corticosteroid injection. Steroid injections:
- Reduce inflammation and pain quickly
- Help to supress the immune system and control rheumatoid arthritis
While some people get immediate relief from pain, others feel the effects only after several days. The effects may last for a few days to up to 6 months, depending on the extent of inflammation, overall health, etc. As the effects of the injection are temporary, additional injections may be needed.
This injection therapy works faster than hyaluronic acid injections and is more powerful than conventional oral anti-inflammatory medications. It also does not have many of the side effects of oral corticosteroid medications.
Both these types of injections have side effects, which patients should be aware about. Physicians will discontinue use or try a different supplement or alternative therapies when patients report side effects.
Therapeutic injections should be administered by experts
In a professional multispecialty healthcare center in Brooklyn, NY, therapeutic injections are administered by pain management specialists who are experiencedin using image-guided procedures. This is necessary to place the needle in the right location and to deliver the medication accurately. In these centers, imaging is also used in diagnosis to confirm the precise location and cause of the pain.