Is joint pain just a part of getting older? Maybe. But who says you don’t have options for dealing with it? As the body ages, joints produces less hyaluronic acid (HA), a substance found in synovial fluid, a lubricant in the joints. A reduction in HA levels occurs in patients with arthritis and other conditions.
Fast Facts About Those Achy Joints
According to Arthritis Foundation, as many as 54 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, the leading cause of disability. Osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 31 million of those cases.
While arthritis may be considered an older person’s disease, as many as 300,000 infants and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One in four adults with arthritis—15 million people—report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis. Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain.”
Is There a Solution In HA Joint Injections?
While there’s no “cure,” per se, for arthritis, many patients are able to find some level of relief with hyaluronic acid joint injections. HA joint injections reintroduce the lubricant the body should be producing on its own. Some patients may experience relief after just one series of injections, while others may need multiple injections over the course of several weeks or months. Whether one or several injection sessions are necessary, many patients find a reduction in pain and stiffness, better shock absorption, and greater range of motion as a result of HA joint injections.
Arthritis Foundation reports, “About 30 percent of people who undergo hyaluronic acid injections become virtually pain free, and symptom relief may last up to two years […] Yet, another 20 percent of patients experience no benefit.”
Is It All About Technique? Ultrasound-Guided Injections of the Joints
There are several methods for injecting joints with HA. At St. Thomas Medical Group, Nashville rheumatologists use ultrasound-guided technology for injecting joints. With ultrasound technology, providers can get a more accurate view of the tissues and internal structure of the joint. This allows for more precise needle placement and more effective results from the injection therapy.
In taking the ultrasound approach, providers will rub a clear ultrasound gel over the joint, which acts as a conductive medium, allowing for a clear image of the joint. This maximizes the opportunity for a successful, targeted injection by minimizing sound wave interference.
Many studies have investigated the efficacy of ultrasound-guided joint injections compared to landmark guided injections. A 2018 study evaluating the existing evidence on ultrasound-guided injections in sports medicine reports, “In the lower extremity, ultrasound-guided injections at the knee, ankle, and foot have superior efficacy to landmark-guided injections.” Clinicians, researchers, and insurers debate the effectiveness of ultrasound technology in some other joint injections. More research is being done.
Do Ultrasound-Guided Injections Hurt?
Prior to injecting the hyaluronic acid, your provider may use a numbing agent to reduce pain and discomfort. Also, in many cases, using ultrasound technology may speed up the procedure and result in a less painful injection.
After undergoing this brief outpatient procedure, you may experience some acute swelling or discomfort for 24 to 48 hours post-injection. During this time, patients are advised to rest and take it easy. Standing and walking should be minimal during this recovery period.
Get Joint Injections In Nashville & Gallatin
St. Thomas Medical Group is proud to offer joint injections that can improve mobility and quality of life in patients with sore, stiff, and achy joints. For more information, or to find a rheumatologist in Nashville or Gallatin, call +1 (615) 964-5823 or schedule an appointment online.