Which injection works best for knee osteoarthritis?


Quick Answer

The best injection for knee osteoarthritis depends on the individual patient, according to WebMD. Some people find quick, short-term relief with corticosteroid injections, while others have more success using hyaluronic acid.

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Full Answer

Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation in the knee, explains WebMD. The first injection typically produces the best results, while subsequent ones often do not relieve pain as well. When the shots work, patients feel better within one to two days. The benefits last only about six to 12 weeks. For some patients, however, that is enough time for the osteoarthritis flare-up to recede. Most patients who use steroids are limited to just a few injections during the year. More frequent use often harms cells that produce knee cartilage.

Certain patients experience significant pain relief with injections of hyaluronic acid, a liquid naturally found in the knee, notes WebMD. Doctors generally do not recommend these shots until patients demonstrate unsatisfactory pain relief with medications, heat or ice packs or corticosteroid injections. Steroids cause significant side effects in some patients, while hyaluronic acid injections are easier on their bodies. Also, hyaluronic acid is sometimes a good option for patients who are unable to take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen sodium.

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