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Best Injections for Chronic Knee Pain

Best Injections for Chronic Knee Pain

Knee pain plagues millions of Americans and stems from several different causes. The most common culprit, arthritis, accounts for severe joint pain in 15 million people in the United States, and about 50% of them live with the pain day in and day out.

But arthritis isn’t the only problem. Knee pain also comes from injury, surgery, bursitis and tendinitis, and ligament and cartilage damage. 

At SamWell Institute for Pain Management in Colonia and Livingston, New Jersey, Dr. Jay M. Shah always approaches knee pain by identifying the underlying cause and treating it first. Once the problem is resolved, the pain typically subsides. But when the problem can’t be fixed, sometimes the best course of action is to simply stop the pain. 

Dr. Shah uses several conservative treatments and advanced technologies to address knee pain, including nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, physical therapy, disease-modifying drugs, and acupuncture. But often, a simple injection into the joint can do the trick. Here’s a closer look at injections for chronic knee pain.

Corticosteroid injections

Whether you’ve been in a car accident, were involved in a sports injury, got hurt at work, or struggle with arthritis, your knee pain is likely due in large part to inflammation. In some cases, inflammation is the only problem, meaning there are no structural issues, such as torn cartilage or broken bones.

In either scenario, inflammation is a huge contributor to your pain because it puts pressure on your nearby nerves, and reducing it delivers significant relief. Here, Dr. Shah may suggest a corticosteroid injection directly into your knee joint. 

The injection contains two powerful ingredients: a numbing agent that brings you instant relief, and a corticosteroid that bathes the area with medication that reduces the swelling for longer-term relief. Although the respite from pain won’t last forever, it can help you get past sudden increases in chronic pain and can also enable you to participate in physical therapy as your knee heals from an injury. 

Corticosteroid bonus

Corticosteroid injections can also help Dr. Shah get to the bottom of what’s causing your knee pain. The same needle he uses to inject the medication can withdraw a sample of the fluid surrounding your knee. That fluid lets Dr. Shah know whether you have either an infection or arthritis, which allows him to develop the best treatment plan for your recovery and pain management.

Viscosupplementation — hyaluronic gel injections

As your knee joints age, they gradually degenerate, and, if you’re like 14 million other Americans, you’ve developed osteoarthritis in your knees.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your knee joints wears down from years of use. Age and weight are the two primary contributing factors, but certain physical activities can speed up the process, too. As the cartilage in your knees wears away, it diminishes the only protection that keeps your bones from rubbing against one another. Your bones grind together painfully, and the friction results in bone spurs.

This constant rubbing also results in a loss of fluid called hyaluronic acid in your knee joints. This fluid acts as a lubricant and helps the parts of your knee anatomy slide and glide smoothly. Without it, your bones and ligaments “catch” on one another and cause joint stiffness and pain, exacerbating your osteoarthritis.

While arthritis is incurable, the pain can be managed. The solution for many comes in the form of viscosupplementation. Here, Dr. Shah injects your joint with hyaluronic acid. This gel-like substance is familiar to your knee, and it goes straight to work absorbing shock and lubricating your joint. 

It’s normal to notice a slight increase in pain before the relief sets in, as some people experience minor inflammation from the injection. But if you do, rest assured that it’s brief and temporary. Once the viscosupplementation kicks in, you should notice considerable relief and better flexibility.

Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation

If the pain in your knee persists, it may be due to a malfunctioning or damaged nerve. To find out, Dr. Shah uses a nerve block to test your genicular (knee) nerves and see which one responds to the anesthetic. Once he pinpoints the culprit, he can shut off the nerve’s ability to send pain signals using a procedure called radiofrequency ablation.

To do this, he inserts very thin needles into your knee joint, targeting the affected nerve. The needles emit radiofrequency energy that gently heats up the nerve tissue and stops it from sending pain messages to your brain. This procedure may bring you six months to two years of pain relief.

If you suffer from chronic knee pain, you have multiple options for relief. We invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Shah either online or by calling our friendly staff today. There’s no reason to live with debilitating knee pain. 

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