A hyaluronic acid injection (also called joint fluid replacement or viscosupplementation) is a treatment often used to help relieve joint pain.
To help give you a better understanding, let’s imagine the engine of your car trying to run on low oil levels. You know precisely how poorly that would end. Eventually, your engine would lock up because there isn’t enough lubrication to keep the gears moving smoothly. Your joints work in a similar way.
Instead of oil, your joints need synovial fluid, which helps the bones glide smoothly where they meet. One of the critical components of synovial fluid is hyaluronic acid, which helps to cushion and lubricate the joints and other tissues, and that’s where hyaluronic shots come in- it gives your joint the lubrication and shock absorbency it needs to move freely.
What is osteoarthritis?
Commonly referred to simply as arthritis, osteoarthritis is inflammation of the joints and affects an estimated 27 million Americans.
Joint changes happen naturally as you age, and they most commonly affect people 50 and older; but, normal wear and tear isn’t the only cause of arthritis. In fact, intense activity levels and injuries can speed up the natural aging processes of the joints.
Arthritis causes a breakdown of the cartilage and hyaluronic acid that surrounds the joints to cushion and protect the surface of the bones. Without the cartilage, your bones will grind together, causing stiffness, pain, and swelling.
*Arthritis is most common in joints that bear the weight of your body, such as your knees, hips, and spine.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Naturally present in your body, hyaluronic acid is found in your joints and eyes.
As we mentioned above, when you struggle with arthritis, you probably don’t have enough hyaluronic acid in your affected joint so hyaluronic acid is injected directly into your affected joints to give your joint more lubrication to move freely.
*Patients have reported that they immediately experienced pain relief after receiving their first hyaluronic shot.
As we just mentioned, hyaluronic acid injections can alleviate the stiffness and joint pain associated with arthritis and might even be able to extend or limit the need for surgery!
Why Would an Arthritis Patient Get Hyaluronic Acid Injections vs. Other Treatments?
Typically, individuals try other conservative treatments first, like weight loss, exercise, NSAID medications, and steroid injections. When those don’t help or lose their effectiveness, hyaluronic injections become an option.
Although hyaluronic acid is also available as a pill, the shots are usually preferred.
*Some doctors might use hyaluronic acid injections along with steroid injections as well.
Is It Worth Getting Hyaluronic Acid Shots to Delay a Knee Replacement? Or, Should You Just Get the Surgery?
Hyaluronic acid injections are often a last-ditch effort before knee replacement surgery. For some people it can delay surgery or can avoid it altogether, but hyaluronans will generally not avoid eventual surgery in badly affected knees. But, they will be helpful in patients not quite mentally ready for surgery.
At Southcoast Medical we want you to know that there are other options besides major invasive surgery. Let us guide you to your best recovery plan! Schedule a consultation in person or via zoom today.
How is the injection done?
This simple procedure is done at our Southcoast Medical office in either our Charleston or Mt. Pleasant location.
You’ll be placed in a comfortable position, and the skin over the affected joint is cleaned. An anesthetic injection is given to help minimize the very minimal pain you’ll feel during the procedure.
A small amount of fluid is removed from the joint first, to make room for the medicine. Using the same needle, your doctor then injects hyaluronic acid directly into your joint.
A small bandage is placed over the injection site, and you’re able to go home fairly quickly and resume normal activities.
Your knee may be a little tender for a few days, so just make sure to avoid strenuous activities until it starts feeling better.
*Hyaluronic acid injection effects can last 3-6 months, and they have minimal side effects.
Is hyaluronic acid right for me?
If you’ve tried several treatments but have received little to no relief, and you’re not ready to have surgery, hyaluronic acid might be the missing link to your joint problems.
Southcoast Medical is owned and staffed by board certified physicians with years of experience in joint problems. Our goal is to help patients regain the active lifestyles they desire, without pain, and without surgery!
So, if treatments like physical therapy, pain medications, and exercises have failed, it might be time to explore this life-changing treatment! Click Here to schedule your consultation with us today! Or call us directly at 843-990-8390.