Hyaluronic acid injections vs cortisone shots for knee pain

September 19, 2022

woman holding the knee with pain

Did you know that about 1 in 4 adults in America suffer from chronic knee pain? While this statistic might sound high, the actual number is probably a lot higher. This is because many Americans are quick to brush off knee pain as something they just have to endure, without even considering seeking help for it.

For those who do seek treatment for their knee pain, we also understand that the level of options available can be overwhelming. This is why our team here in Annapolis, MD have put together this handy introduction to pain relief injections — just one of the many treatment options available for relieving knee pain.

However, as with a lot of pain relief treatments, not all pain relief injections are equal in their effectiveness. This is why we’re not only here to discuss pain relief injections; we’re also here to discuss which pain relief injections are the best ones for you.

Before we get started, let’s gain some clarity on knee pain, what it is, and what causes it.

What are the symptoms of knee pain?

Patients visit our pain management clinic in Annapolis, MD for several reasons, but one of the most common reasons is for knee pain. While we’re always glad to see patients finally presenting with problems that we can help with, many of our knee pain patients have been suffering unnecessarily for years.

For those who do present to our pain management specialists with knee pain, they usually report experiencing:

  • Pain in the knee joint, as well as above, below, and to either side
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Instability (possibly feeling like the knee will “give out”)
  • Popping, crunching, or clicking noises
  • Loss of range of motion in the joint

What can cause knee pain?

Because knee pain can occur for several reasons, your medical provider will need to carry out an assessment before being able to identify what’s triggering your discomfort. However, as a guide, our pain management providers here in Maryland were able to give some insight into the most common causes of knee pain.

They include:

  • Injury (acute or repetitive)
  • Arthritis
  • Patellar Bursitis (a type of inflammation at the front of the kneecap)
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) or “runner’s knee”
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome

General aging can also be a trigger for knee pain, with weight also playing a role in how much strain is being put on your joints. Luckily for you, our team of medical providers, physical therapists, and chiropractors are on hand to help with all types of pain — regardless of the trigger.

What treatments are available for knee pain?

If you’re currently suffering from knee pain, you’ll be glad to hear that there are several treatment options available for knee pain. While the most effective treatments for pain relief include injections such as Hyaluronic Acid Injections (which we’ll discuss more in a moment), other treatments can include:

Cortisone shots

Cortisone shots in the knee have been a widely accepted method of treating knee pain for some time. However, at Annapolis Pain Management, we have our reasons for taking a different approach.

While it’s true that cortisone shots can offer temporary pain relief to patients, as a long-term pain relief treatment, they are not a viable option. This is because cortisone shots in the knee only serve to suppress the pain being experienced by the patient, instead of treating the source of the pain.

Our pain management providers here in Maryland primarily try to use alternatives to cortisone injections due to the number of complications this injection can cause. Some complications include  spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as a decrease in joint space (up to 8% each injection). Patients also risk side effects such as muscle atrophy (if injected through the muscle) and joint / soft tissue breakdown. This is why our providers encourage our patients to seek alternative treatments to cortisone injections at our Annapolis clinic.

Hyaluronic Acid Injections (Viscosupplementation)

Instead, we have worked to become a leading provider in Maryland of Hyaluronic Acid Injections for pain relief. Hyaluronic acid injections (also known as viscosupplementation or gel injections) are a non-surgical method of effectively treating knee pain and improving the quality of life for patients experiencing knee discomfort.

As an FDA-approved treatment, hyaluronic acid injections relieve pain by lubricating and cushioning the knee joint. Unlike cortisone shots, hyaluronic acid injections don’t just suppress the feeling of pain being experienced, they reduce friction in the joints and help protect your cartilage and bone from further damage.

At Annapolis Pain Management, we have a few preferred types of hyaluronic acid injectables that we like to use based on their proven effectiveness. Our recommendation will always be to prioritize using an injectable that yields the best results, however if you are utilizing insurance they will have a specific list of their preferred drug which will have to be used to have your insurance company cover the cost of the drug (based on your insurance plan benefits). Our medical providers educate our patients on the different options they have for hyaluronic acid injectables but ultimately it is up to our patients to choose which hyaluronic acid injectable they want to use.

The main benefits of hyaluronic acid injections include:

  • Reduced pain
  • A slowing in the progression of conditions such as arthritis
  • Improved mobility
  • Reduction in inflammation and stiffness

What are my next steps if I’m experiencing knee pain?

Where knee pain is concerned, symptoms can become debilitating if not managed correctly. Even though a certain level of pain is expected throughout the aging process, our patients are surprised by the level of relief that can be achieved through targeted treatment — regardless of what’s triggering your pain.

If you’re experiencing knee pain, our pain management providers will be able to assess your symptoms and decide on a course of action that best suits you. If our providers believe that you could benefit from the effects of hyaluronic acid injections, we’ll schedule an appointment for the injections to be administered.

With hyaluronic acid injections, our medical providers here in Annapolis, MD are well-versed in putting our patients at ease, so there’s no need to be concerned about your visit. The procedure is quick and easy, so you’ll be in and out in no time!

After having a hyaluronic acid injection, patients can expect relief from pain for six months and up to one year. For best results, our team will create a treatment plan to help keep your pain under control.

If pain relief injections for knee pain sounds like something you would like to investigate, or if there’s another type of discomfort you’re experiencing, you can request an appointment at our clinic in Annapolis, Maryland.

Don’t let treatable pain or discomfort stop you from living your life!

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