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Hyaluronan Injections Can Relieve Knee Pain Caused by Osteoarthritis

A healthy knee joint is lined with protective cartilage and lubricated by a thick liquid called synovial fluid, which absorbs shock and allows the bones to glide smoothly against each another. Osteoarthritis can cause both the cartilage and the synovial fluid (specifically, the hyaluronic acid within it) to break down. As a result, the bones may begin to grind painfully together, leading to reduced mobility.

How can hyaluronan injections help relieve knee osteoarthritis symptoms?

A loss of hyaluronic acid can cause the synovial fluid to become thin and watery, rendering it less effective as a joint lubricant. Therefore, replacing lost hyaluronic acid may thicken the synovial fluid, which in turn can potentially improve knee pain and other osteoarthritis symptoms. Hyaluronan injections, or viscosupplements, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose, specifically for treating knee osteoarthritis.

An alternative to medication

In particular, hyaluronan injections may be considered for patients who cannot tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as for those who are unable to manage their symptoms with NSAIDs.

While the results of hyaluronan injections can vary among individuals, some patients find effective symptom relief. The full benefits may not become apparent for several weeks, but after that, the pain-relieving effects can potentially last for several months. In contrast, the effects of corticosteroid injections – another common knee osteoarthritis treatment – are usually felt within a few days and then last for approximately one month. For these reasons, a patient’s knee pain treatment plan may include both corticosteroid injections and hyaluronan injections.

In addition to helping the synovial fluid serve its function as a joint lubricant and shock absorber, hyaluronic acid may interfere with prostaglandins and cytokines, two naturally occurring compounds that promote joint inflammation and can contribute to knee pain.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, we offer a full range of knee pain treatment options, including corticosteroid injections and hyaluronan injections, to individuals in the Houston, Texas, area. To learn more, contact us today.