Learn About the Choices You Have for Relieving Knee Pain
Knee pain can be debilitating to living an active life. This feels especially true when it’s caused by arthritis. Not only is it the most common chronic ailment among Americans over the age of 45, but it also doesn’t have a cure. While some people do choose total knee replacements as a solution to their arthritis pain, many others opt for a more conservative approach. This includes the six different types of knee injections you can receive to treat the arthritis pain in your knees.
1) Cortisone (Steroid) Injection
The most common treatment for arthritis, it treats your pain with a corticosteroid, a powerful anti-inflammatory. Steroid injections can vary in effectiveness, depending upon how severe and advanced your individual case of arthritis is. By reducing inflammatory cell activity in the joint, corticosteroids can offer relief for two to three months.
This treatment refers to the various brands of hyaluronic acid preparations used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee joint. As you lose cartilage in your knee, you also lose your natural volume of hyaluronic acid, the lubricating fluid that protects your joint from the rubbing and grinding caused by osteoarthritis.
The viscosupplementation gel is typically sourced from either animal cartilage rich in hyaluronic acid (like the comb of a rooster) or hyaluronic acid created in a laboratory. While more than 6 different FDA-approved brands of viscosupplements are currently available, studies have revealed all are about equally effective – around 6 months – and no one brand is superior to another.
3) Platelet-Rich Plasma
As you might have learned in science class back in school, your blood is made of plasma, platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. Platelets have a very important function in clotting when we are cut or have an injury, but they also have a remarkable function when concentrated in the plasma through a centrifuge process.
More commonly known as PRP, Platelet-Rich Plasma involves injecting a concentrated number of platelets within a small amount of plasma into a painful joint, tendon, or ligament to promote healing. This process creates an inflammatory response similar to an injury, which is exactly what we want. This controlled response attracts growth factors from your body to heal stubborn tissue that would normally have very poor blood supply – like a joint, tendon, or ligament. Poor blood supply means poor healing response. PRP injections provide the environment necessary for proper healing.
PRP can help with treating plantar fasciitis, partial tendon or ligament tears like rotator cuff injuries, ACL injuries, or partial meniscus tears. It can also help osteoarthritis pain in the knee, shoulder, hip, ankle, and elbow. The most effective condition treated with PRP is tennis elbow, which is an inflammatory reaction of the common extensor tendon which attaches near the elbow. You don’t need to be a tennis player to have this problem. Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers often see a range of patients with this problem, including people who frequently type on a keyboard, work with their hands using repetitive motions, and weight lifters.
4) Amniotic Regenerative Injections
The potent healing powers of amniotic tissue make this a uniquely effective treatment for arthritis joint pain. Amniotic tissue includes the umbilical cord and amniotic sac surrounding an unborn fetus. The placental tissue is donated following a scheduled C-Section, and the tissue is genetically screened and sterilized making it safe for injection.
Unique to amniotic membrane, this tissue has remarkable anti-inflammatory effects, wound protection, pain reduction properties, and decreased scarring. Amniotic membrane can have a greater impact on tissue repair and regeneration than previous treatment considerations. This occurs through suppression of the typical inflammatory response our bodies have to injury and through accelerated healing by attracting growth factors and other healing cells to the injury, .
5) Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Stem Cells are considered your body’s “Master Cells,” as they have the ability to differentiate or change into cartilage cells, muscle cells, bone cells, fat cells, and nerve cells. This ability to morph into different cell types makes tissue repair and tissue regeneration a possibility.
Stem cells therapy has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Currently, there are more than 350 active research studies and clinical trials across the world assessing current and new potential for this treatment.
Stem cells are found in almost all types of tissue in our bodies, but we have found they are most accessible in the bone marrow and fat. Through a specialized needle, the bone marrow is harvested from the iliac crest or pelvic bone. The area of the skin and around the bone is numbed with a local anesthetic prior to the procedure. Once the marrow is extracted, it may be spun in a centrifuge for concentration, depending on the type of method used to extract the cells.
After the cells are harvested and are ready for injection, they are transferred to a syringe similar to other injections you have likely experienced. Once injected into the affected joint, tendon, ligament, or muscle, the body takes over and the healing process starts. Stem cell therapy shows the most promising treatment methodology today for regenerative medicine.
6) Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M) Therapy
Alpha-2-macroglobulin (A2M) is a plasma protein found in significant quantities in the blood. A2M has been described as a broad spectrum multi-purpose protease inhibitor. This means it can inactivate a variety of proteinases that are known to degrade cartilage.
Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs in in part because the diseased joint overproducing several chemicals slowly erodes the patient’s cartilage. By inhibiting these chemicals (proteases), alpha-2-macroglobulin can slow cartilage breakdown, which can improve joint function and decrease pain.
To learn more about the options you have for knee injections that treat your arthritis, contact Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers today!