Viscosupplementation vs. Cortisone for the Knee: Comparing Treatments

Patient receives viscosupplementation injection in knee

Whether as a result of a traumatic injury or through overuse during athletic or everyday activities, there are many reasons people develop knee pain. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that patients and their medical providers can try to alleviate that knee pain. Two possible solutions that are often compared are cortisone injections and viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid (HA).

The experts at Reflex Knee Specialists offer joint fluid treatments to patients in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona. While cortisone injections may be familiar to the general public, another treatment known as viscosupplementation can improve the quality of synovial fluid in the knee, decrease inflammation in the joint, and reduce the level of knee pain. Here, we explore the two options and look at how they differ.


Which Knee Conditions Are Treated with Injections?

The most common condition that causes knee pain in the world is osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease characterized by chronic inflammation that weakens all tissues inside the joint, including specialized cartilage tissue that cushions the articulating surfaces of bones during movement. While a cure for osteoarthritis does not yet exist, there are several treatments that reduce pain and inflammation and slow the breakdown of cartilage. Reflex Knee Specialists offers several options for treating osteoarthritis, including physical therapy, joint fluid therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and off-loading knee braces.


What Is Viscosupplementation for the Knee?

A viscosupplementation treatment uses hyaluronic acid treatment (HA) to decrease inflammation and pain. This treatment also improves the quality of the joint (synovial) fluid and provides additional cushioning and protection to the cartilage. It provides symptom relief for 4 to 6 months.


What Is Cortisone for the Knee?

Cortisone is a steroid, which also reduces inflammation in the knee joint. Unlike the protective effects viscosupplementation with HA has on cartilage tissue, repeated cortisone treatments have been shown to damage cartilage and accelerate the osteoarthritis process. Additionally, the effects of cortisone only last a few weeks. For these reasons, the team at Reflex Knee Specialists recommend viscosupplementation with HA and warn patients to avoid repeated treatments of steroids. Sometimes insurance companies require a single dose of a steroid before they will authorize coverage for viscosupplementation treatments. Since this is only required once, Reflex providers will administer a steroid treatment to meet this requirement so patients can receive the preferred treatments with hyaluronic acid (HA).


Which Treatment Should Patients Choose?

There are several medicines, injections, and supplements to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. At Reflex Knee Specialists, our providers evaluate each patient through careful examination and diagnosis. This may include using imaging technology, such as diagnostic ultrasound, to determine the cause of the knee pain and monitor the accuracy and effectiveness of treatments. Based on the results of a comprehensive knee evaluation, our medical staff will help patients determine the best course of treatment based on their individual situation.


Viscosupplementation Injections Available at Reflex Knee Specialists

Invasive surgery is not always the answer to knee pain and should be considered a last resort after seeing how they respond to conservative treatments. At Reflex Knee Specialists, we utilize a comprehensive approach in which the overall health and activity level of each patient are taken into consideration. In addition to viscosupplementation joint fluid treatments, our other services include platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, knee bracing, ozone joint therapy, specialized physical therapy, and off-loading knee bracing systems.

With offices in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona, the providers at Reflex Knee Specialists are standing by to help patients who feel stuck on the sidelines to get back to life by alleviating knee pain. Take the first step in leading a more active and fulfilling life by contacting us today to schedule your comprehensive knee evaluation.

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