Painful Knee Osteoarthritis: It's Time to Repeat Hyaluronic Acid Injections

Last updated: November 2022

I remember the occasion very clearly when osteoarthritis made itself known beyond a reasonable doubt. In 2010, I decided to paint my home music studio a fun combination of light orange and green on alternating walls with the ceiling being a creamy ivory color. It was exciting to liven the space up, but it did require a lot of climbing up and down off of the ladder to be able to reach the spaces around 4 skylights and a slanted ceiling.

I don’t know how many times I climbed up and down that ladder, but by the time I was finished painting, I could hardly walk. My left knee was tremendously painful and swollen. I wasn’t exactly sure what I had done to my knee but I knew that I needed some type of relief.

Osteoarthritis in both knees

At the time, urgent care centers were few and far between and the ones that did exist seemed a bit sketchy. My doctor couldn’t fit me in for a visit and I could hardly walk. I felt somewhat desperate for relief so I went to the nearest urgent care center.

Treatment with a steroid injection

The doctor in the office examined me and took an x-ray of my leg. Then he recommended I consult an orthopedist for further evaluation. I don’t even recall if I received even the mildest of pain killers. The only good thing that came out of that visit was a referral to an orthopedic office. I was able to get a visit the very same week and left with the diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee and a steroid injection.

A couple of years later, I returned to the same orthopedic doctor for my right knee. I left that visit with confirmation of OA in the right knee and another steroid injection. As with everything in my body, things seemed to take turns.

Hyaluronic acid injections for knee pain relief

In 2014, my left knee was in excruciating pain once again. My orthopedist ordered an MRI scan which revealed grade 2-3 cartilage loss in all three compartments of the knee. OA was to blame. This time I received a round of Orthovisc injections which provides a hyaluronic acid viscosupplement that cushions the knee joint and provides pain relief for some people. In my case, it worked well.

Physical therapy for added support

I also received physical therapy (PT) after the series of viscosupplement injections were complete, during which time the PT determined that my kneecap was “frozen” and several important muscles were significantly tight and shortened. A few months of working with her helped tremendously in regaining function in my knee and legs.

In 2017, my right knee was in excruciating pain and the orthopedist went straight to Orthovisc injections for relief since they had worked so well for my left knee. The injections themselves can be painful, but the relief is worth the temporary pain. Typically if hyaluronic acid injections are successful, they can be repeated in 6 months or later. In both cases, I didn’t repeat the procedures because my OA knees felt so much better.

In need of knee pain relief again

Now here it is several years later and both of my knees have been screaming at me for months. I first mentioned the increased pain about 6 months ago to my rheumatologist. I mentioned it again 3 months ago, but we discussed how I experience less pain when I am cycling regularly.

This month I didn’t hold back and told my rheumatologist that my knees were in severe pain and that I needed relief. She prescribed a painkiller that has helped me to actually sleep through the night. My goodness, what a difference an uninterrupted night’s sleep can make on your outlook on life. My rheumatologist also offered to give me viscosupplement injections in the office if my insurance would approve them for use outside of an orthopedic practice.

I just received word that prior authorization has been granted for Gel-One injections and am now waiting for the specialty pharmacy to call and arrange for delivery. Following delivery, I will schedule an appointment to get my knees filled with this fabulous gel-like substance to hopefully provide more cushion and delay serious discussions of total knee replacement surgeries.

Living with both OA and RA pain

Without getting into any type of quarreling match as to whether OA or RA is the worse of two evils, I will just acknowledge that at different times both diseases have kept me up at night crying or screaming out in pain if a joint was touched in just the wrong way. Both cause varying degrees of damage and deformity.

Regardless of the form of arthritis, it is a blessing when treatment is successful in reducing the effects of disease and allows you to continue doing the things you like to do. I’m hoping that viscosupplement injections will do that again for me now.

Do you have osteoarthritis in the knees? Have you had different types of knee injections to reduce the pain? What’s been your experience? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Be well,

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