Knee injections are a common medical procedure for treating various knee conditions. The treatment involves injecting medication directly into the knee joint to enhance lubrication and relieve pain or inflammation.
Knee injections can be used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, knee injuries, and osteoarthritis. They are typically preferred to knee replacement surgeries as they are less invasive. Your doctor may recommend knee injections as an alternative or to delay knee replacement surgery.
Types of Knee Injections
The four most common types of knee injections are corticosteroid, hyaluronic acid, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and stem cell injections. Below is an overview of each.
Corticosteroid injections contain corticosteroid medication. They are used to reduce inflammation in knee joints, consequently reducing knee pain. They are typically used in the management of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory arthritis. In some cases, they are used to treat knee swelling or pain due to knee injuries. The effect can last from six weeks to six months.
On the downside, corticosteroid injections have several risks, including (but not limited to) cartilage damage, damage of nearby bones, nerve damage, tendon weakening or rupture, temporary increase in blood sugar, and joint infection.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid injections are another common type of knee injection. They are mainly used to treat osteoarthritis. The injections contain a synthetic version of the natural hyaluronic acid found in the knee joint. The gel-like fluid improves lubrication, reducing pain and stiffness.
Hyaluronic acid injections are given as a series of injections over several weeks or months. They provide relief for up to six months, after which you would need to retake the treatment procedure.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections (PRP)
Platelet-rich plasma injections are a newer type of knee injection, and they’ve quickly gained popularity. During treatment, a blood sample is taken to the lab to separate the platelets. The platelets are then injected into your knee joint over a few weeks or months.
Platelets contain healing properties, which reduce inflammation and promote healing. Platelet-rich plasma injections provide relief for up to six months.
Stem Cell Injections
Stem cell injections are another recent knee injection therapy. The treatment procedure involves injecting stem cells into the knee joint. The procedure works on the premise that the stem cells differentiate into different cell types, including cartilage cells.
The differentiated cell repairs worn out cartilage cells or other damaged knee joint tissues, slowing down the progression of conditions such as osteoarthritis. On the downside, stem cell injections are expensive, and most health insurance plans do not cover them.
Knee injections are a less invasive knee treatment alternative to knee replacement surgery. The right type of knee injection depends on your specific knee condition, medical history, and budget. Efficacy varies depending on the condition and recipient. Consult a specialist if you have a knee injury or other knee conditions; they will assess your knee condition and advise on the most suitable treatment option.