The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, causes joint pain and stiffness just like all other types. It’s a “wear-and-tear” issue, which means the damage it causes worsens over time the more you use your joints. The joints begin to break down as the condition causes changes to the cartilage and eventually the bone.
If you experience hip pain, knee pain, or other joint pain, along with a decreasing range of motion, our specialist Dr. Glenn M. Flanagan identifies or rules out osteoarthritis as the cause before recommending the most effective form of treatment to meet your needs.
Here at Naples Regenerative Institute in Naples, Florida, we often provide hyaluronic acid injections, or viscosupplementation, as an option for moderate osteoarthritis if other more conservative treatments don’t improve your condition.
You might be curious as to how hyaluronic acid injections work and why they’re such an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, especially in the knee. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid injections for osteoarthritis.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Unlike injectable steroids commonly used to treat arthritis and other conditions, hyaluronic acid not toxic or harmful to your body. It’s a thick fluid similar to what you find naturally inside your body already, including within your joints.
Hyaluronic acid naturally holds onto moisture and lubricates not just your joints but also your eyes and other parts of your body. With sufficient natural hyaluronic acid in your joints, they can move smoothly and freely with a wide range of motion.
Of course, the hyaluronic acid in your injections is produced in a lab and doesn’t come from your body. Still, it serves the same purpose and reduces friction inside a damaged joint while protecting the cartilage from “wear-and-tear” degeneration.
Why hyaluronic acid works
In the case of osteoarthritis, hyaluronic acid injections are one of many excellent choices for treatment. It is Dr. Flanagan’s preferred injection covered by insurance carriers. Osteoarthritis damages your joints in many ways, causing a general decline in their function. While the cartilage inside your joints degrades, the quality of the natural hyaluronic acid within your joint fluid declines too. Plus, inflammatory markers mix into the joint fluid, which leads to increased pain and swelling.
Hyaluronic acid injections replace some of the joint fluid so your joints are less inflamed, less painful, and more mobile. Viscosupplementation is primarily a treatment for knee osteoarthritis but offers similar improvements to other large arthritic joints like your hips and shoulders.
When hyaluronic acid is the best choice for treatment
Hyaluronic acid injections aren’t typically a first treatment option for osteoarthritis as there are more conservative options you can try first, like physical therapy, supportive devices, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Dr. Flanagan works closely with you throughout treatment and keeps an eye on your condition to track improvements and tailor your care plan.
Viscosupplementation works best for mild to moderate osteoarthritis and may help you avoid or delay surgery to treat the joint. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is another option that can be considered as part of your joint preservation treatment plan at Naples Regenerative Institute.
Should you consider injections for osteoarthritis?
If your osteoarthritis symptoms are getting worse despite your treatment efforts, it may be time to consider hyaluronic acid. Schedule a treatment consultation over the phone or online at Naples Regenerative Institute at any time.