Gel injections for knees are also known as viscosupplementation. The gel, made of hyaluronic acid, is injected into the knee joint to improve lubrication and enhance shock absorption.
The injection should be done by a licensed healthcare professional. Typically, the procedure only takes a few minutes, and patients can resume normal activity immediately. Some people may require a single injection, while others may require multiple injections over time to see sustained results.
What are Gel Injections for Knees Used For?
Gel injections are primarily used for treating knee osteoarthritis (OA). Knee OA is a degenerative joint disease that causes the articular cartilage to break down over time. It presents as knee pain and stiffness, resulting in reduced mobility.
Millions of people across the world suffer from knee osteoarthritis. The pain and reduced mobility make it difficult for them to perform their daily activities, reducing their quality of life.
The gel injection adds lubrication to the knee joint reducing pain and improving mobility.
Aside from knee osteoarthritis treatment, some doctors prescribe hyaluronic acid gel injections to treat knee injuries or as a preventative treatment for individuals with a high risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.
How Effective are Gel Injections for Knees?
Gel injections are effective for treating knee pain and mobility issues, as they supplement the naturally-occurring synovial fluid found in the knee joint. Synovial fluid is gel-like and provides lubrication and cushioning on the knee joint.
Several studies indicate that intra-articular injection of hyaluronic acid is effective for managing knee OA. The effectiveness of gel injections for knees varies from person to person, depending on the extent of the disease.
Gel injections for knees are more effective for mild-to-moderate knee osteoarthritis (OA) where oral or topical medication is ineffective. Some doctors may prescribe gel injections for advanced OA to delay or even avoid knee replacement surgery.
On average, patients see about 50% improvement in their knee pain for 4-6 months. Some patients may see near 100% improvement, while others see little (if any) improvement. Most doctors will have you go in for a review within the first 2 months of the injections to assess if it is working. Gel injections can be repeated after 6 months.
Do Gel Injections for Knees Have Side Effects?
Although some people do not experience any side effects after gel injections on their knees, others experience pain, swelling, warmth, or redness on the knee. It is also normal to see bruising on the injection site. Some people may also experience headaches that go away after a few days.
The side effects are usually mild and should improve within 1-3 days. If they persist for more than 3 days or get worse with each passing day, contact your doctor immediately.
Gel injections for knees are primarily used for the treatment of knee OA. They add lubrication to the knee joint, improving mobility and relieving pain. This method is often preferred due to being minimally invasive. On the downside, gel injections are expensive and may also cause side effects. Talk to your doctor to determine if gel injections for knees are a suitable treatment option for you.