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Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis: What to Expect

Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis: What to Expect

Knee osteoarthritis causes progressive joint damage. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict how quickly deterioration will occur because it’s different for each person. 

But we can slow it down, ease your pain, and keep you moving as long as possible with advanced knee pain treatments and joint injections.

Orthopedic surgeon Gregory M. Stanley, MD, MBA, FAAOS, at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, PC, puts tremendous effort into preserving your knee joint and minimizing pain with nonsurgical treatments like hyaluronic acid injections.

Some people find that hyaluronic acid injections dramatically improve their symptoms, allowing them to postpone or avoid joint replacement surgery. Here, we explain everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid injections.

Hyaluronic acid protects your joint

Your knee joints are enclosed in a capsule lined by synovial membranes (synovium). The membranes produce a thick fluid that cushions and lubricates the joint, absorbs shock, and nourishes the articular cartilage covering bones. Hyaluronic acid is the essential lubricant in synovial fluid.

Osteoarthritis develops as the articular cartilage gradually degenerates, but that’s not the only change occurring in an arthritic knee. As osteoarthritis progresses, levels of hyaluronic acid drop below normal levels.

The loss of hyaluronic acid contributes to your joint pain and stiffness. It also accelerates tissue degeneration.

Benefits of hyaluronic acid injections

When we inject hyaluronic acid, your joint regains its natural lubrication, easing your pain and making it easier to move the joint. Hyaluronic acid also has other roles beyond lubrication that improve the health of your knee joint.

Hyaluronic acid reduces inflammation in the joint. It also boosts the production of substances that help restore the matrix supporting articular cartilage. In this role, an injection of hyaluronic acid may slow cartilage deterioration.

What to expect during your injection

We apply a topical anesthetic to the injection site and use real-time imaging like ultrasound to see inside the joint and guide the needle.

After inserting the needle, we may need to withdraw (aspirate) some fluid, but we only insert the needle once. We can aspirate excess fluid and inject your treatment using the same needle, swapping the barrel part of the needle.

You may experience mild pain, warmth, or swelling after the injection. These side effects don’t last long, and you can get relief by applying an ice pack and taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. We also ask you to avoid strenuous activities for a few days.

Depending on the brand of hyaluronic acid we inject, you may need one to five shots to achieve optimal results. We give you one shot weekly if you need multiple injections.

Hyaluronic acid injection results

Everyone responds differently to all types of medication, including hyaluronic acid injections. Some people experience substantial pain relief, while others have little to no improvement.

If the injection helps, it typically takes a few weeks to get results. Most patients find that their results last two to six months. You can get another round of injections in about six months. These additional injections may give you long-lasting pain relief from knee osteoarthritis. 

To learn if you’re a good candidate for hyaluronic acid injections, call Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, PC, or use the online booking feature today for a consultation at our Hood River or The Dalles, Oregon office.

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