Understanding Your Options for Relieving Your Arthritis Pain
If you experience the chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis, you’re not alone. This degenerative joint disease affects more than 30 million Americans, complete with painful stiffness and swelling. Although there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, doctors have found that a combination of treatments, including physical therapy, weight loss, exercise, and oral pain relievers/anti-inflammatory medications can provide symptom relief.
However, when the pain becomes especially severe, such tactics can only go so far. In fact, if left untreated, osteoarthritis can reduce your mobility and even lead to permanent disability. While a total knee replacement may seem like the answer (and for some it is), many patients find that a knee injection can provide symptom relief for weeks, months, even years, at a time – especially in conjunction with the self-management strategies mentioned earlier.
The obvious question remains: Which knee injection treatment is best for me? Is there one that will most effectively treat my osteoarthritis?
Identify Your Choices
Previously, we discussed the six primary kinds of knee injections you can receive for joint pain:
- Cortisone injection: Reduces joint pain with a corticosteroid, a powerful anti-inflammatory
- Viscosupplementation: Restores the lubricating fluid that protects your joints, hyaluronic acid
- 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
- Amniotic tissue: Administers placental tissue into joints, which possesses powerful healing, anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties
- Stem cells: Uses stem cells from bone marrow to heal joints, tendons, or ligaments
- Alpha-2-macroglobulin therapy: Slows joint breakdown by blocking the production of chemicals that wear away cartilage
As you can tell, each shot is different, which means each one could affect everyone differently.
Weighing the Options
As you consider your options, keep in mind each treatment impacts different areas for different reasons:
- A cortisone injection is the most common treatment for reducing inflammation and one of the most effective for reducing symptoms quickly, but may not last long depending on the severity of the condition.
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy promotes an inflammatory scenario that actively promotes a healing response from your body.
- Alpha-2-macroglobulin therapy, on the other hand, helps prevent further degradation of cartilage.
- Treatment methods such as stem cells and amniotic tissue encourage healing joints, tendons or ligaments by concentrating and attracting stem cells to the affected joint.
You may also want to consider the side effects of each. For instance, since cortisone shots can raise blood sugar levels, doctors are wary to administer them to diabetic patients. Consequently, they recommend viscosupplementation, which lasts around six months, compared to mere weeks. Also, if you receive platelet-rich plasma, you cannot take oral anti-inflammatories for a short time. Additionally, as with all shots, there is a small chance of infection.
Assessing Your Next Steps
Even with all of this information at your disposal, you still must recognize that each person has different medical conditions and needs, specifically in terms of your specific stage of osteoarthritis. Hence, determining the best type of knee injection is not as simple as trying all the treatments just to see which one works.
You should always speak with your physician or one of the trained experts at Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers to determine which knee injection is right for you and your pain relief goals. That way, you and your doctor can develop a long-term care plan that will get your life back in motion.