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Hyaluronic acid injections: one-month review

February 16, 2010

I received a series of three injections of hyaluronic acid in both of my knees last month, excited at this vanguard technology that held out some promise for reduced pain and improved mobility. After the first injection, my knees felt wonderful for several hours, but the grinding pain soon returned. I was still unable to go up or down stairs without my knees dislocating, or to walk on pavement. The second injection seemed to accomplish almost nothing, and the third took a while to kick in. The orthopedic PA said that it sometimes took one to several months for the injections to become really effective.

I had my third injection a month ago today. I’m certainly grateful that the specter of knee replacement surgery, which has hovered over me since I was 15, is off the docket. This is largely because I have other health issues that make surgery pretty much out of the question.

The injections have provided definite improvement — it would be difficult to assign an arbitrary percentage — but I still have limitations and pain. My knees don’t dislocate nearly as frequently as they did before, but they do occasionally, making stairs an always uncertain and often painful prospect. The grinding pain is not constant, but it continues to show up most days. It remains very painful to walk on pavement, and even on my treadmill. Pedaling the stationary bike as the orthopedist recommended has been helpful and is not painful. It does seem to align my knees and reduce the probability of dislocation, and it does reduce the pain I acquire from sitting, walking, and standing.

Given the extent of the improvement I have experienced, if the sense of improvement wears off and my knees begin dislocating frequently again and the pain worsens in intensity and duration, I would definitely consider another series of injections. The PA said that another series would be possible as soon as 6 months from the last injection, but that the injections could provide substantial benefit as long as 18 months.

Overall, I would urge anyone contemplating knee replacement surgery to consider hyaluronic acid injections. They may provide all the relief you need, and they may provide as much relief as surgery for a fraction of the expense and without the complications, physical therapy, painful and lengthy recovery, etc. Obviously this is something to review with your orthopedist. Artificial knee joints do not remove limitations from life, and the process of recovery from knee replacement surgery stands among the worst horror tales I have ever heard.

The specific hyaluronic acid product I received was Euflexxa. The company’s website has a doctor locator.

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3 Comments
  1. Norm Duke permalink
    March 11, 2010 7:57 am

    I am have HA injections into both of my battered skier knees on Monday. Are the injections painful??

  2. March 11, 2010 9:07 am

    The HA injections themselves were pretty easy to take; it’s the “pre-drilling” injections that clear the way for the HA infusions that hurt a fair amount, but just for a few seconds. I hope you get a lot of relief — but do give them time, and don’t assume that the initial euphoria will endure. I do find the daily pedaling on a stationary bike helpful, especially for sustaining alignment.

  3. May 5, 2010 8:19 am

    I’ve been running consistently for about a year and a half. My intensity and speed has increased in the last couple of months but infortunately some pain began to develop in my knees. I just ignored it until it got too great. So I did some research and came upon this product.

    I chose this brand since I’ve used it in the past and got good results. I’ve been taking the Joint Complex capsules for the last 3 weeks and along with some rest and an improved nutrition, most of the pain in my knees have subsided. Additionally, there is more elasticity in the joints of my knees as well as ankles. I will continue to take it and recommend it for those who do a lot of running.

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