Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Hyaluronic Acid Injections
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative arthritis or wear-and-tear arthritis. Arthritis is what happens when the tissue that protects the bones wears away. This tissue is called cartilage (say: car-till-edge). Osteoarthritis in the knee can be a painful problem.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Doctors don't know what causes joint cartilage to wear away. But they do know that osteoarthritis is more common as you get older or if you are very overweight. Sometimes a serious knee injury can bring on arthritis after a few years.
How can my doctor tell if I have osteoarthritis?
Your doctor can find out if you have osteoarthritis by asking you questions about how your knee feels and by giving your knee an exam. Your doctor may want to take x-rays of your knee. These x-rays can help your doctor see how serious the problem is.
How will my doctor treat my osteoarthritis?
Medicines and physical therapy can help the pain. Physical therapy is a special exercise program with a trained therapist who helps you move your knee in certain ways.
Are there other options?
Yes. If oral medicine and physical therapy don't help your knee enough, your doctor may consider giving you an injection ("shot") with pain medicine (called anesthetic). It can stop the pain for days to weeks. Adding another medicine (called a corticosteriod) to the anesthetic may keep the pain away longer. If this doesn't help enough, your doctor may talk to you about surgery or hyaluronic acid injections.
What are hyaluronic acid injections?
A new medicine called hyaluronic acid is being used for some knee injections. Some hyaluronic acid is already in the fluid in your joints. In people with osteoarthritis, the hyaluronic acid gets thinner. When this happens, there isn't enough hyaluronic acid to protect the joint like it used to. Injections can put more hyaluronic acid into your knee joint to help protect it.
Hyaluronic acid injections may give you more pain relief than oral medicines. These injections can help the pain stay away for 6 months to a year, and sometimes longer.
Unfortunately, these injections don't help everyone. Hyaluronic acid injections are also expensive. They usually cost more than $600. Many health insurance programs cover these injections.
Your doctor has given you this handout because hyaluronic acid injections may be an option for you. He or she will talk with you about the pros and cons of hyaluronic acid injections and whether they are right for you.