At least 20% of Americans suffer from arthritis of the knee, the most common site for osteoarthritis. In fact, the number of people with knee arthritis rose dramatically in the past few decades.
There was a time when the only way to treat painful knee arthritis was with pain medication and, eventually, joint replacement. But today, state-of-the-art options like hyaluronic acid (HA) joint injections can help relieve symptoms while improving the way your knees work.
At Pacific Sports and Spine in Eugene, Oregon, our team specializes in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, offering HA injections and other advanced options tailored to your symptoms, lifestyle, and other factors.
Here’s how HA arthritis injections work and how they might help you feel better.
Your knee joint forms where the upper leg bone meets the lower leg bones. These bones are covered with a thick layer of slippery cartilage that reduces friction inside the joint and helps your knee move smoothly without pain or stiffness.
In addition to the cartilage layer, your knee joint contains a special fluid that also works to prevent friction and support normal, smooth movement.
In knee arthritis, the cartilage layer begins to break down, typically as a result of years of wear-and-tear on the joint. Being overweight or obese can accelerate cartilage breakdown, because your knees have to support more and more weight.
Cartilage breakdown isn’t the only cause of knee arthritis as you age. Your body also tends to produce less of the joint-cushioning fluid, which contains a high concentration of hyaluronic acid (or hyaluronate).
As the amount of fluid declines, friction inside the joint increases. Combined with the cartilage changes, the knee joint begins to develop inflammation, which causes pain, stiffness, and other arthritis symptoms.
HA injections for arthritis use purified hyaluronic acid delivered directly to the joint. The injected fluid supplements the fluid that naturally occurs in the joint. That’s why HA knee injections are sometimes referred to as viscosupplementation.
In addition to adding new HA fluid to your knee joint, HA injections also promote natural healing responses inside the joint, helping to reduce inflammation that worsens arthritis over time. Some research suggests HA injections might promote healthy cartilage growth while also protecting the existing cartilage and bone layers in the knee.
At Pacific Sports and Spine, each HA injection treatment is tailored to the individual patient’s needs. Most of our patients benefit from a series of five injections spaced a few weeks apart, while a few may find the relief they’re seeking after just three treatments.
HA injections can be an effective solution for knee pain due to arthritis, but that’s just one cause of knee pain. At Pacific Sports and Spine, we offer an array of treatments for different causes of knee pain so you can find the relief you’re looking for.
To learn more about the treatments we offer, call our Eugene, Oregon, office or use our online tool to schedule an appointment today.