For patients suffering with severe knee pain that have exhausted oral medication, injections are commonly the next step. Cortisone is usually the first stop, but unfortunately causes damage to the joint and can be dangerous to use. A safer alternative is called Hyaluronic Acid, or rooster comb injections. Hyaluronic acid is a component of the synovial fluid inside your joints and acts as a lubricant. The degeneration that occurs in osteoarthritis also breaks down this fluid, so hyaluronic acid injections can help replace it. For more information about how this can help you put off surgery and where to get it here.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is also known as Gen-Visc, Syn-visc or viscosupplementation. It’s mostly recommended for patients with osteoarthritis and administered in 3-5 weekly injections depending on how severe the damage is. These injections can be used for almost any joint but are most commonly prescribed for the knee. Their purpose is to primarily lubricate the joint and reduce friction and pain that comes from deterioration associated with degenerative arthritis.
Unlike cortisone, HA has numerous benefits. These injections essentially add more fluid to the inside of the joint, effectively lubricating it. This can help reduce inflammation and will sometimes improve range of motion and provide pain relief. HA injections also improve joint space, which can take pressure off patients who suffer with bone on bone joints needing replacement. By opening up the joint, this can also be helpful in slowing further deterioration and buy time for patients wanting to put off invasive surgery.
Perhaps one of the best advantages of HA is its safety; there are practically no side effects. The only real downfall of this therapy is the results are temporary. While it may help slow the damaging effects of osteoarthritis, it does not help the body re-grow new tissue and is only a short term solution. This being said, it is much safer than cortisone (and even NSAIDs) and comes much closer to addressing the cause of the problem.
At Solutions, we offer both the natural form of HA and GenVisc (the brand name HA covered by Medicare (for qualified patients)) and see great results for most or our patients with knee pain from OA. Even though results are temporary, sometimes it’s the next best option for patients who either can’t afford regenerative medicine or have to wait. Sometimes we use HA as a type of boost treatment – used within a regenerative medicine program that requires more than one regenerative medicine injection. The HA helps keep the joint space open so the regenerative medicine has more room to work.
Some have suggested that because the HA is a component of synovial fluid, perhaps an HA injection may help provide more building blocks for the regenerative medicine to use for repairing damage/adding to joint space. Contact us for more information about HA injections and whether or not it might helpful to you.