Hyaluronic Acid injections are a type of knee injection commonly used for the treatment of people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a compound that is naturally found in synovial fluid (also known as joint fluid). In patients with “arthritis” (osteoarthritis) of a joint, we know that they start to lose hyaluronic acid in that fluid. We believe the hyaluronic acid acts as a joint lubricant and/or shock absorber for the joint. Adding hyaluronic acid back into the joint can help with the symptoms that you are experiencing, most notably pain. Choosing to proceed with HA injections will not change the root cause of an arthritic joint that will likely continue to degenerate, but it can help remedy those symptoms to some degree in many cases.
Hyaluronic Acid is most typically administered as a series of three injections given seven to ten days apart from each other. There is also a series of five shots, while others are administered as just one injection. Your orthopedic specialist may prefer to use one brand over another. This is a discussion that you can have with them.
You should not expect to get improvement immediately after the first injection, as it takes time for each injection to build up within the joint. It may take as long as three weeks after the last injection before you notice improvement. Your orthopedic specialist will consider the injections to be successful if you notice a 20-30 percent improvement with your overall symptoms. It is unrealistic to think you will get one hundred percent relief. The goal of the injections is to get you feeling better, to improve your function and maybe even increase your activity level on a day-to-day basis.
If you do feel better after the series of injections that is great, but you need to notice improvement for five to six months. The injections can only be given six months and one day after the last injection. If the injections do help and last long enough, then you can always return and do another series of injections. In theory, you can continue to do the injections forever if you are happy with the improvement of your symptoms, though typically the relief period gets shorter over time as arthritis worsens.
Hyaluronic acid injections are just one treatment option available to treat your osteoarthritis symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no treatment yet discovered that can stop, reverse, or change arthritis within your joint. The current treatments that we have are to improve your quality of life so that you can function better at home and or work, sleep better and enjoy an active lifestyle.
Ready to learn more and develop a personalized plan for your knee pain, whether that includes injections or something else? Make an appointment with an orthopedic knee specialist to begin solving your knee pain.