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Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis: What to Expect

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis: What to Expect

May is Arthritis Awareness Month and a great time to shed light on one of the most common forms of arthritis: knee osteoarthritis. 

Knee osteoarthritis is no walk in the park — it’s more like a continuous uphill hike on rocky terrain, each step a reminder of your painful limitations. 

But there are rest spots on this trail, and hyaluronic acid injections can offer a pause, a moment to catch your breath and relieve the pain and stiffness. 

In this guide, Dr. Naima Cheema and our Nexclin Medicine team explain this treatment and how it eases the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

Knee osteoarthritis 101

When arthritis attacks your knee joints, they groan with every bend, and stiffness seems to dictate your every movement. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that often affects the knees. It results from cartilage breakdown, which causes your bones to rub against each other, leading to pain, swelling, and a restricted range of motion.

This common ailment, particularly prevalent among older adults, can significantly impede your daily life. From walking to climbing stairs, even simple tasks can transform into daunting challenges that threaten your independence and peace of mind.

What does knee osteoarthritis feel like?

You may recognize osteoarthritis by its symptoms — a persistent aching or sharp pain, a swelling that refuses to subside, and a crunching sound when you move your knees. The pain can become so intense that it disrupts your sleep and, in turn, your health.

The struggle with knee osteoarthritis also extends beyond physical discomfort. It can lead to social isolation as the activities you once enjoyed become increasingly difficult to participate in. 

And then there’s the psychological toll, with depression and anxiety often walking hand-in-hand with chronic pain.

Hyaluronic acid injections to the rescue

Hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally found in your knee’s synovial fluid. Hyaluronic acid injections, also known as viscosupplementation, restore your joint’s natural shock-absorbing ability, reducing pain and improving joint function.

Preparing for the procedure

Before the injection, Dr. Cheema advises you to discontinue the use of any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, that could increase the probability of bruising. She also discusses your medical history, including any allergies or previous infections, to ensure the procedure is as safe and effective as possible.

What to expect during the injection

Dr. Cheema administers the hyaluronic acid directly into your knee joint through a fine needle. The procedure is relatively quick and straightforward, usually taking no more than a few minutes. 

You should avoid strenuous activities for a day or two following the injection to allow the substance to take effect.

Benefits and risks of hyaluronic acid injections

Hyaluronic acid injections offer more than a temporary fix; they can provide relief for several months, allowing you to reclaim the activities you enjoyed before you developed knee osteoarthritis. 

They also enable you to participate in physical therapy without pain so you can strengthen the support muscles around your knee.

The benefits may not be immediate; in fact, some people experience increased discomfort for a short period before the relief kicks in.

Like any medical intervention, hyaluronic acid injections come with a few risks, including minor side effects such as temporary pain or swelling at the injection site. However, more severe complications like bleeding or infection are incredibly rare.

Post-injection care

The hours and days after your hyaluronic acid injection are crucial for your recovery. Rest is key, especially for the first 48 hours, to allow the substance to settle into your joint and begin its work. 

Dr. Cheema recommends avoiding high-impact activities, like running or strenuous gym sessions, but light walking and stretching are generally safe.

Follow-up steps

Dr. Cheema may recommend additional injections, typically administered weekly, for a total of three to five treatments. These booster shots help to maintain the improvements and extend the period of relief.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular, gentle exercise can also contribute to the health of your knees and the longevity of the benefits from the injections.

This Arthritis Awareness Month, consider taking proactive steps toward regaining your mobility and comfort. Call Nexclin Medicine in Roswell, Georgia, or schedule an appointment online.

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