Millions of individuals worldwide suffer from osteoarthritis which usually affects the weight bearing joints. The knee joint is one of the joints that are commonly affected by osteoarthritis.
It is important to note that osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease develops over time once the cartilage lining the weight bearing surfaces of the joint starts to deteriorate and eventually wear out. In some individuals, the wearing away of the knee cartilage can result to pain, swelling and stiffness. Remember that these symptoms can range from mild to debilitating. Osteoarthritis affecting the knee is quite common but a difficult condition to manage with primary care. The ideal way to manage this condition is by the administration of gel injections.
What are the types of gel injections?
Viscosupplementation or gel injection is administered into the knee joint with a gel-like substance known as hyaluronic acid. It is important to note that hyaluronic acid is one of the naturally occurring lubricants in a healthy knee joint.
At the present, pharmaceutical companies have developed 3 major hyaluronic acid-based variants. Take note that some of these gel injections are made out of biological sources while others are produced synthetically. The use of gel injections or viscosupplementation has been approved since 1997 in the U.S.
How gel injections are administered
The gel injections are performed in the doctor’s clinic. Oftentimes, the doctor will utilize a topical anesthetic to numb the skin before the injection is administered. In most cases, the procedure will only last for a few minutes and given in one or both knees.
The full course of treatment is determined by the choice of injectable used. Some require three injections with a week interval while others require up to five injections with a week interval. The doctor will recommend activity modifications as well as avoid engaging in lengthy weight-bearing activities for 48 hours after each injection is given.
What are the expected results?
The gel injections are intended to mimic the natural lubricating process of the knee joint as well as provide momentary relief for an uncertain period of time. The outcomes are quite variable. Those who were given gel injections reported pain relief for 8-12 weeks after the treatment was started. Oftentimes, the series of injections might be repeated at a later date if the symptoms recur.
Who are suitable for gel injections?
The gel injections are typically given after other conservative treatment options were ineffective. Most doctors will recommend finishing a course of physical therapy to increase the strength in the muscles surrounding the knee.
The doctor might also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or over-the-counter pain medications as part a less invasive treatment plan. In case medications and exercise could not manage the symptoms, the doctor will recommend the gel injections.
What are the potential risks?
Even though normally safe, the injections can cause momentary pain in the injection site, warmth, swelling, redness, itchiness, redness, bruising around the joint and accumulation of fluid in the knee. It is vital to consult the doctor if the individual has any allergies to eggs, feathers or poultry since some gel injections are made out of these biological products.