Patients who suffer from chronic inflammation in their knees may receive hyaluronan injections in order to relieve the pain. Doctors will usually pursue other treatments first because this treatment requires weekly visits to the doctor's office to receive the injections. This treatment may also be used to treat chronic pain in other joints, but treatment in joints other than the knees has not been thoroughly studied to determine how effective it may be.
Individuals with osteoarthritis of the knees and those who have sustained knee injuries may benefit from treatment with hyaluronan injections. The active ingredient in these injections, hyaluronate, is an artificially created substance that performs the same function as a naturally occurring chemical found in the knee joint. Adding this fluid to the knee joint helps with pain because it lubricates the joint, allowing it to move more easily. It also helps buffer against any jarring that occurs in the joint when a person walks or exercises.
In order to administer hyaluronan, the doctor inserts the needle directly into the affected knee. In some cases, fluid that is already in the knee may need to be removed so that there is room for the injection. Once the injection has been administered, the patient needs to wait for two days before exercising or putting too much stress on the knee. In many cases, the knee will be swollen and painful for the first couple days after the injection.
It usually takes a few treatments before hyaluronan injections will be effective as a treatment for pain in the knees. Patients have to receive these injections weekly and must continue with the injections indefinitely. Most patients only turn to this treatment when common pain medications are ineffective, as hyaluronan injections are a long term treatment that require frequent office visits and a lengthy amount of time spent off the affected joint,.
Though it has not yet been approved for use except in the knees, there is reason to believe that hyaluronan injections may also be effective in the treatment of pain in other joints. The elbows, hips, shoulders and other joints all contain fluid similar to those found in the knees. Replacing or supplementing the natural fluid in these joints with hyaluronan injections may offer similar relief from pain. Medical studies and trials will determine how effective this treatment is for these other joints.