Arthritis in your knees can be disabling and lessen your quality of life. When it’s painful to walk because your knees hurt and your job demands it, you might be considering workplace disability. You may have already given up activities like gardening, dancing, or playing a sport that you love.
As a knee arthritis patient, you may have already tried cortisone shots and physical therapy. The effect of the cortisone shots didn’t last long, and physical therapy hasn’t given you the relief you’re seeking. Before scheduling a knee replacement, look into the benefits of hyaluronic acid.
Our board-certified orthopaedic surgeons at San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center treat many patients with knee arthritis; some patients have greatly benefitted from hyaluronic acid injections, leading them to postpone knee surgery.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a gel-type material found in your skin, eyes, and connective tissue. It functions as a shock absorber in your knee joints. It’s also a lubricator, keeping your tissues moist. An adult of roughly 150 pounds has about 15 ounces of hyaluronic acid inside their body.
Why hyaluronic acid is helpful for arthritis in your knee joints
Osteoarthritis in your knees has likely caused the hyaluronic acid in the knee joints to dissipate. This lack of moisture, along with damaged cartilage, may cause the bones in your joint to rub together, creating painful friction.
If other traditional treatments haven’t worked for your knee arthritis, your physician at San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center may recommend hyaluronic acid injections. Following are the ways that hyaluronic acid acts in your body to help your knee arthritis.
A lube job for your knees
Just like a car needs oil to run, your body needs an adequate supply of hyaluronic acid to keep your knee joints lubricated. The injections provide “viscosupplementation,” or needed moisture, to your painful joints. The gel-like acid acts as a shock absorber inside your knees when you walk or move, helping to eliminate painful friction in the joint.
Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation that produces pain. Research demonstrates that hyaluronic acid injections have anti-inflammatory results in many patients with knee arthritis, including reduced swelling and pain.
Some patients with arthritis have taken over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs for lengthy periods of time. These drugs all have side effects, including organ damage. If you’ve overdone NSAIDs and blood tests show that it’s no longer safe for you to take them, your physician can offer hyaluronic acid injections instead. Research shows that the injections may work better than prescription drugs and just as well as cortisone shots.
Although hyaluronic acid injections don’t help every patient, they do provide pain relief for many people. The chemicals in the acid act on nerve endings, stopping pain messages from arriving in the brain.
Additional promising properties
Although more research is needed, scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory properties of hyaluronic acid may reduce or delay cartilage and bone degeneration in patients with arthritis. Because the inflammation is reduced in some patients for more than three years (a year after the last injection cycle), the hyaluronic acid injections may change the progression of the disease as well as calm its symptoms.
Call or book an appointment online with San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center today for relief from your painful arthritis.