A thick, naturally occurring liquid that lubricates the joints, hyaluronan (also called hyaluronate) becomes thinner in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. If you are one of the millions of adults living with osteoarthritis of the knee, your physician may prescribe hyaluronic acid injections to ease pain and stiffness. An injection of hyaluronic acid may replace the body’s natural supply of hyaluronan.
Hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the cavity around the knee joint over a course of several weekly treatments. Although the injections do not immediately relieve pain, a patient may experience relief after several days. These pain-relieving effects typically last from six months to a year, with maximal results often seen at six to eight weeks.
Unfortunately, the overall results of hyaluronic acid injections have been mixed. Some patients respond favorably, but relief often lessens over time. Other patients fail to respond at all. If you and your physician decide that hyaluronic acid injections are not for you, we can help you alleviate pain with a series of exercises that focus on the following areas:
- Range of motion: Abnormal motion of the knee joint can exacerbate osteoarthritis. We can evaluate your gait to ensure that your daily movements do not lead to progression of your osteoarthritis.
- Muscle strength: Strengthening the muscles around your knee is essential to improving quality of life in patients with osteoarthritis. We can work with you to strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings and hip muscles that will improve the health of your knee joint. We can also work on strengthening your core muscles to increase your overall stability.
- Manual therapy: We may use a hands-on therapy to gently mobilize your lower extremity joints and improve their motion, flexibility and strength, thus decreasing pain and increasing function.
Even if you undergo hyaluronic acid injections, you may find that a combination of injections and physical therapy yields the most beneficial results. If you experience the pain of osteoarthritis, call our office for an appointment. We will work with you and your physician to design an exercise program that meets your needs and lifestyle.