Knee injections for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee happens when the cartilage breaks down on the surface of your knee joint. This can lead to bone and joint damage. This causes knee joint inflammation. Many people experience knee pain when climbing stairs, kneeling or even standing.

Lifestyle changes and simple pain-killers can help relieve mild knee symptoms.

In time, however, simple painkillers might not work and your doctor may prescribe stronger medications, including occasional steroid injections.

Injections aren’t a cure for knee osteoarthritis, but they can be effective in relieving pain and easing inflammation, possibly for several months or sometimes even longer.

What type of knee injections are there?

Steroid injections

Corticosteroids are similar to cortisol, a natural hormone that your body produces.

Steroid injections for knee pain can help control the inflammation. Kenalog and Depomedrone knee injections are commonly used.

Steroids that treat pain and inflammation are different from anabolic steroids, which bodybuilders may use.

A small amount of a high dose steroid is injected into your knee under local anaesthetic. It can provide months of pain relief and allow you to gain control over your symptoms and regain a good level of function in your knee.
A corticosteroid or cortisone knee injection is one of the most common anti-inflammatory injections used.

Hyaluronic acid

Knee injections with hyaluronic acid help to lubricate your knee joint and reduce inflammation.

The body’s natural joint lubricant, the synovial fluid, helps spread the load throughout the joint and helps nourish the joint surfaces.

Hyaluronic Acid is one of the most important components of your synovial fluid. In conditions such as osteoarthritis, the balance between new and old hyaluronic acid is disrupted and less new hyaluronic acid is produced in your knee. As a result of this, your synovial fluid becomes more watery and stops working properly.

An injection of hyaluronic acid can restore the balance of new and old sodium hyaluronate in your knee. This can mean less pain and stiffness and an overall improvement in function and movement. This can also alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and patients report many months of pain relief.

Hyaluronic acid knee injections or viscosupplementation are a more natural alternative to steroid injections

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee happens when the cartilage breaks down on the surface of your knee joint. This can lead to bone and joint damage. This causes knee joint inflammation. Many people experience knee pain when climbing stairs, kneeling or even standing.

Lifestyle changes and simple pain-killers can help relieve mild knee symptoms.

In time, however, simple painkillers might not work and your doctor may prescribe stronger medications, including occasional steroid injections.

Injections aren’t a cure for knee osteoarthritis, but they can be effective in relieving pain and easing inflammation, possibly for several months or sometimes even longer.

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How do you perform a knee injection?

You can usually receive a knee injection in your doctor’s clinic. The procedure only takes a few minutes.

You’ll be sitting during the procedure, and your doctor will position your knee. They may use ultrasound to help guide the needle into your joint.

Your doctor will:

  • clean the skin on your knee
  • insert the needle into your joint, which might cause some mild discomfort
  • inject the medication into your joint
  • place a dressing over the injection site

Though you may feel some discomfort, the procedure is not usually painful if your doctor is experienced administering this type of injection.

What are the benefits of knee injections?

Knee joint injections may give you immediate relief from pain and inflammation.
Relief may last many months

In some cases, symptoms disappear after one injection

What are the side effects of knee injections?

The main and immediate side effect of an injection can be bleeding within the joint if a small blood vessel is nicked during the injection.

Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 10 people may have a “flare-up” of their symptoms, but these usually settle very quickly.

Long-term side effects of frequent steroid treatment can include:

  • a breakdown of cartilage
  • bone thinning at the particular joint, but this is rare
How many knee injections can I have?

For the reasons mentioned above, doctors usually recommend waiting at least 3 months before having another injection and limiting the injections to a single joint to 3-4 per year.

There seem to be less long term side-effects with hyaluronic acid injections, and the effects appear to be longer-lasting in some studies.

Knee injection recovery

After the injection, you’ll usually be able to go straight home.
Your doctor may advise you to:

  • avoid strenuous activity for the next 24 hours
  • avoid swimming for a couple of days
  • Look out for side effects, such as an allergic reaction or an infection (swelling and redness)
  • take simple pain relief medication if needed
  • Your knee may feel a little tender for a few days.
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How can I Get Help With My Knee Pain?

As with any condition, it’s important to get the right diagnosis and the right advice and treatment sooner rather than later. Often if diagnosed early knee arthritis will respond to non-invasive treatments such as physiotherapy and exercise. If things aren’t settling then here at the My Knee Doc clinic we offer treatments such as specialist knee injections which can help you stay in control of your symptoms without the need for pain-killers.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help or if you just want to speak to our specialist knee surgeon Mr Gareth Stables then click here and arrange your free call back.

If you’re suffering from knee pain – get your free copy of my guide to find out everything you need to know about how to manage your symptoms.