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Hyaluronic Acid Injections

Lubricate and cushion your joints

Hyaluronic acid is similar to a substance that occurs naturally in the joints. It works by acting like a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints and helps the joints to work properly.

What is in a Hyaluronic Acid Shot?

Hyaluronic Acid is a natural part of the fluid that helps lubricate and cushion your joints and keeps them working smoothly. When you have osteoarthritis (OA), the hyaluronic acid in the affected joint thins.

Hyaluronic acid injections add to your body's natural supply. You may hear your doctor refer to these injections as "viscosupplementation," which literally means they help the fluid in your joints.

Doctors can't predict who will benefit from hyaluronic acid injections. But many doctors give them to people with knee OA whose symptoms don’t get better with painkillers or non-drug treatments such as heat or ice.

What To Expect

Depending on which type your doctor uses, you may get a single shot. Or you'll get three to five injections spaced a week apart.

The injection is given the same way for all types. First, the doctor cleans the area. If your knee is swollen with excess fluid, your doctor may inject a local painkiller, then insert a needle into the joint to withdraw excess fluid. With the same needle still in place, the doctor can usually inject the hyaluronic acid into the knee joint.

After an injection, you shouldn't do hard weight-bearing activity for one or two days. Otherwise, you should be able to resume normal activities.

Treating Knee Osteoarthritis

The goals of treating knee osteoarthritis with hyaluronic acid injections are to:

  • Reduce pain

  • Improve joint movement by increasing joint lubrication and reducing joint friction and inflammation

  • Perhaps slow osteoarthritis progression

A healthy knee joint contains up to 4 mL of joint fluid.3 Hyaluronic acid is a key component of the joint fluid. It gives the joint fluid its viscous, slippery quality, which does the following:

  • Enables the bones' cartilage-covered surfaces to glide against each other, thereby reducing joint friction

  • Adds cushion to protect joints during impact (e.g. weight-bearing activity)

Recovery Time

Doctors advise a period of 12 to 24 hours of rest immediately after viscosupplementation. Resting after the injection helps to reduce injection pain and also decreases the chance of hyaluronic acid from being flushed away from the joint capsule.

During this rest period, patients may perform simple, low-impact activities, like slow, short walks. Running, carrying heavy loads, and performing other high impact activities are generally avoided during this period. The pain-relieving effects of this procedure usually appear by around the fourth week after the injection.

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