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Hyaluronic Acid vs. Corticosteroid Injections: What’s The Best Option?



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In the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation, about 50 million Americans suffer or have arthritis. One of the most common forms that keep people in excruciating pain is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Although this condition also has the tendency to occur in younger people, often, it affects as people over the age of 50 years and older.

OA or Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition and it causes the joints and cartilage between the joints to break down. In the body, the cartilage serves as a cushion for the joints and it helps to protect the bone surface. Without this cushion, the bones will grind together as they rub, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness.

Often, doctors recommend pain management physical therapy in Atlanta, GA, self-care measures or a knee brace to help the discomfort and the pain OA brings with it. For some individuals, doctors also recommend medications that relieve the knee pain. As a patient, if you continue to experience discomfort, have intense joint damage or swelling, your doctor may recommend some other options. You may also require knee injections or even a full replacement of the knee.

Understanding the Knee Injection Therapy 

Typically, doctors recommend this option before they recommend a surgery. For people who suffer from knee pain, good varieties of injections are available. For most people, these injections help to alleviate the pain they experience in the knee. Here is a breakdown of some the knee injection options available in the market.

Hyalgan or Hyaluronic Acid Supplements 

These also go by with the name gel injections. For knee pain treatment, experts such as those at Kroll Care inject a substance, hyaluronic acid into the knee directly to add the acid the body naturally makes. In healthier joints, this fluid tends to act more as a shock absorber and lubricant, to help the joints to work in a proper order.

Most people who suffer from Osteoarthritis experience a breakdown or lack of hyaluronic acid. These injections help to lessen the pain in the knee joint and reduce inflammation. Before injecting this solution, doctors remove a small amount of the fluid to make room for the new fluid. During the treatment phase, patients receive weekly injections, about 1 to 5 weeks, or depending on the use of the product. Hyalgan injections are available in gel or solution form.

Possible Side Effects

Although Hyaluronic acid supplements pose to be an effective treatment form, they do carry some side effects. The common side effects often include irritation at the site of the injection, fluid buildup, stiffness, swelling, and pain in the knee. Some less common side effects of the injection include:

  • Rash
  • Blistering
  • Bleeding
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Nausea
  • A headache
  • Muscle pain

If you are a patient, you need to be aware of the possible risks and report these problems to your doctor immediately. If the side effects go bad beyond measure, you should discontinue their use and use other supplements.

Corticosteroid Injections

These are the next common options in injections for knee pain. Specialists inject these directly into the joint of the knee to alleviate pain and the inflammation quickly. This injection mimics the effect of the cortisol substance, one the adrenal glands produce naturally. When administered in high doses, they help to lessen inflammation. They help to suppress the immune system and control conditions like rheumatoid arthritis where the immune system attacks its own tissues mistakenly.

Corticosteroid travels quickly into the bloodstream and moves to the site of inflammation. The injection therapy helps to provide relief to the affected area and it is much more powerful than other oral medications for inflammation.

The benefits of effects of the injection depend on the condition of the knee, but the usual results last for more than six months. Other factors like the overall health, the extent of the inflammation also play a role in the effects of the injection. The possible side effects include:

  • Tingling sensation around the injection
  • Joint infection
  • Osteonecrosis (death of a nearby bone)
  • Temporary inflammation and flare in the joint
  • Nerve damage
  • Thinning of the soft tissue and the skin around the injection site
  • Lightening or whitening of the skin around site of the injection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Elevated blood sugar in diabetic patients

Which One is a Better Option?

Rest assured that both of these knee injections are better options, and they are viable options depending on the severity of the knee problem. Sometimes, doctors may recommend knee replacement as the final option, if nothing else works. Oral medications and physical therapy are also important as the first treatment option. If the oral medication is unsuccessful, then your next option is injection therapy.

Regardless of the knee pain problem you experience, it is best that you choose a full knee replacement or consult your specialist for more information on the injection therapy options. Your doctor will discuss the pros and cons, to make sure they make the best, final decision to give you instant relief from the pain you experience.