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If you have arthritis in one or both knees, you know pain and stiffness can make it hard to move. Fortunately, there are non-surgical treatment options that can reduce your pain and keep you active.
For many people, knee injections (shots) are a blessing. They may take away the burden of arthritis symptoms, sometimes for months at a time.
“Arthritis” is the medical term for joint inflammation. It refers to a group of more than 100 related disorders that share common symptoms. These include joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease. It occurs when cartilage (a protective tissue on the ends of our bones) breaks down and wears away. When bone rubs against bone, it causes pain, swelling and other symptoms.
Osteoarthritis often affects weight-bearing joints, including the hips and knees. When it attacks the knee joint, it is often referred to as knee osteoarthritis, or knee OA.
Even though knee OA symptoms come on gradually, they usually worsen with age. Early on, you may be able to manage pain with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. But as your cartilage continues to deteriorate, this type of medicine might not work as well.
If over-the-counter treatments don't help, but you're not ready for knee replacement surgery, your doctor may recommend knee injections. He or she will inject medication or another substance directly into your knee joint. There are two main types of knee injections.
Corticosteroid injections (also known as cortisone shots or steroid shots) are a type of medicine that reduces pain and inflammation. When delivered into the knee, they may provide fast relief of pain, swelling and stiffness. For some people, results last for several weeks. Others may experience relief for six months or longer.
Hyaluronic acid injections (also known as viscosupplements). A healthy knee contains fluid that helps cushion the joint and reduce friction. Within this fluid is a substance called hyaluronic acid. It’s a lubricant that helps keep your bones from grinding against each other. People with OA often have less hyaluronic acid in their knee joints. Doctors can inject hyaluronic acid into the knee to help replenish what was lost. This may improve joint lubrication and reduce pain and swelling for several months at a time.
If you’re interested in trying a knee injection, your doctor will help you decide which one is right for you. He or she will also make sure you understand the benefits and risks of injectable treatments.
Don’t let knee pain get you down. Talk to a Mercy orthopedic specialist about your symptoms. Together you can find a treatment that lets you live comfortably and actively – even with arthritis.
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive services to diagnose and treat a full range of conditions, including: