Nearly, one-third of all Americans will struggle with knee pain at some point in their lives. For too many, this pain manifests itself chronically and often without a clear path to relief. One common cause? Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the joints. In a healthy joint, there is a strong layer of cartilage that covers the ends of bones. This helps keep bones from rubbing against each other and wearing down.
When someone suffers from osteoarthritis it means their cartilage is disintegrating and isn’t protecting the bones as well as it should. This results in chronic knee pain and inflammation.
Unlike bones that heal when broken, cartilage doesn’t grow back on its own. Many people take this as a sign that their joint pain is never going away and will only get worse. However, there are ways to help your knees stay protected and lubricated, even for those suffering from osteoarthritis.
The solution is knee injections. There are three common types of knee injections that you can get to manage pain that occurs from this degenerative condition. We’ll walk through each of these injections and discuss whether they can really work for you.
Corticosteroids mimic the body’s natural hormone, cortisol. Cortisol works with the immune system to reduce inflammation, and this injection operates in the same way. These injections can help some patients but don’t work for everyone.
When inflammation is decreased, the friction caused by bones rubbing against each other is decreased, and pain associated with movement is decreased. Unlike other injections that take days or weeks to take effect, some patients have seen immediate results with corticosteroids.
Corticosteroids can often provide effective pain relief for limited periods of time, but with overuse, there is potential for side effects, including avascular necrosis which can cause localized bone damage. Typically repeat injections tend to be less effective. Most insurance companies cover these injections.
Another injection that works well for many patients, with low risk is Hyaluronic acid. These injections play a different role than corticosteroids. Rather than reduce inflammation, their main purpose is to provide lubrication and cushioning in the joints. Hyaluronic acid injection acts much like a lubricant, by replacing naturally occurring fluid that has been lost. Hyaluronic acid reduces friction and inflammation and relieves pain.
This type of injection can last two to three times as long and corticosteroids, with few, if any side effects. As treatments can be repeated and are covered by most insurances including Medicare, they are one of the most common non surgical options for relieving knee pain.
The third most common non surgical knee pain relief option involves removing and preparing platelet cells from your own blood and injecting them back into the knee.
This platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can reduce inflammation and assists the body’s natural healing process. This cutting-edge treatment has been used by high profile athletes to hasten the healing process. Finding relief from your pain may take longer with this treatment but the results may last longer.
Although not typically covered by insurance, many people prefer this option because it uses their body’s own healing tools to achieve relief.
Get Pain Relief with Knee Pain Injections
Studies have shown that for many people injections can provide real and measurable relief. Unfortunately, it’s not the case for everyone. Future research holds the promise for even better outcomes.
If you’re struggling with knee pain and can’t seem to find relief for your condition, talk with our team at Arthritis Care of Texas. We’ll help you know if you’re a good candidate, and what the best treatment options are. Call us today to schedule a visit, and be one step closer to a pain-free life.