Hyaluronic acid injections might be the right treatment to help you with your osteoarthritis.
Joints are like gears – they work best if they’re well lubricated. In a healthy joint, a thick substance called synovial fluid provides lubrication, allowing bones to glide against one another. Synovial fluid acts as a shock absorber, too. In people with osteoarthritis, a critical substance in synovial fluid known as hyaluronic acid breaks down. Loss of hyaluronic acid appears to contribute to joint pain and stiffness.
Will replacing hyaluronic acid relieve osteoarthritis symptoms?
Hyaluronic acid injections (also known as viscosupplements) are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating osteoarthritis of the knee, though some doctors have used the therapy on other joints, such as the hip and ankle.
They work by lubricating painful joints and promoting optimal function, especially for individuals who have not been able to achieve relief through other conservative measures. They also provide a natural anti-inflammatory effect, reducing pain and often avoiding the need for steroid injections. While studies have occasionally yielded disappointing results, many doctors who treat osteoarthritis say that the weight of scientific evidence – and their own clinical experience – suggests that a shot in the knee can produce significant relief for some patients. Furthermore, lab and clinical research hints that hyaluronic acid may do much more than simply re-grease a creaky joint.
An Alternative to NSAIDs
There are five acid treatments for knee osteoarthritis in use in Los Angeles. Hyalgan, along with Orthovisc, Supartz and Synvisc are made from a surprising raw material: rooster or chicken combs. Euflexxa is derived from bacteria.
Hyaluronic acid injections are one treatment option doctors may offer when a patient is no longer able to control osteoarthritis pain with ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or the patient can’t tolerate these drugs (which can cause side effects such as stomach bleeding and kidney problems). The treatment regimen for hyaluronic acid usually involves receiving one injection in the affected joint per week for three to five weeks. Many patients appear to get at least some relief – eventually.
In 2006, a team led by Nicholas Bellamy, MD, of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, reviewed 76 studies examining the use of these injections for treating knee osteoarthritis. The review, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind, found that pain levels in the average patient who receives these injections are reduced by 28 to 54 percent. That’s roughly what a patient might expect from taking NSAIDs, the authors concluded. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid improved the ability to move about and perform daily activities by 9 to 32 percent.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s characterized by the degeneration of cartilage and dysfunction of joint fluid, leading to joint pain, stiffness, tenderness and a loss of flexibility. Without prompt intervention, arthritis is progressive, often worsening over time with further cartilage loss and pain.
Within the body is a naturally-occurring substance, called hyaluronic acid. It works to lubricate your joints, much like a “WD-40,” improving overall joint movement, and protecting your bones from impact. When you have arthritis, the hyaluronic acid surrounding your joints begins to deteriorate. Hyaluronic acid injections can restore this lost fluid and lubrication, so your bones are sufficiently protected.
What to Expect During Your HYALURONIC ACID INJECTIONS…
Considered one of the top providers of hyaluronic acid injections Los Angeles has to offer, you can expect a pleasant experience. All of these injections are delivered under state-of-the-art ultrasound guidance to ensure an accurate needle placement with precise dynamic visualization. This frequently results in more accurate needle placement than “blind” injections along with less reported pain. This is a main reason you want your injections administered by a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, such as Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles based surgeon, Dr. Keith Feder.
To begin, we will comfortably drain and remove excess fluid (bursitis) around the joint that may be contributing to your inflammation. Our philosophy is “out with the bad, and in with the good.” For optimal results, you may require more than one treatment as well as ongoing maintenance visits after six months to maintain healthy and active joints.
Once your treatment is complete, you’ll be able to resume your normal daily routine right away. However, you should avoid prolonged standing, running, heavy lifting and other weight bearing activities for about two days. In terms of side effects, you can expect mild stiffness, very minor pain and a temporary buildup of joint fluid, but these effects should disappear fairly quickly. In the meantime, this can be managed by applying ice to the area and avoiding over activity. Most patients experience maximal relief around 4-6 weeks after completing the lubrication injections that typically maintain a benefit for approximately 6 months.
Are Hyaluronic Acid Injections Right For You?
Hyaluronic acid injections offer a safe, effective, and minimally-invasive way to manage osteoarthritis – but they aren’t right for every patient. They are ideal for men and women who have mild to moderate osteoarthritis (not severe) and have been unable to achieve relief with exercise, weight loss and physical therapy. They are also an appealing alternative if you want to avoid painkillers and steroid injections.
Conversely, hyaluronic acid injections aren’t ideal for patients with more advanced osteoarthritis, as these individuals will likely require a more progressive treatment.