The Common Side Effects of Knee Injections

Treatments for osteoarthritis in your knee range from over-the-counter medications and natural treatments to full knee replacement surgery. How do you decide the best course of treatment for you? An arthritis doctor can be of help from a clinic like Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania. Finding out as much information about treatment and procedures is very important to battling arthritis or pain in the knees.

Arthritis in the knee (osteoarthritis) is very common in adults over 50. It is a chronic condition that causes the cartilage in between your knee joints to deteriorate over time. The cartilage acts as a cushion for joints and also protects the exterior side of your bones. If you no longer have that cushion, your bones will rub against each other and this can be painful and cause your knees to swell and feel stiff.

After you get to a certain point where you can no longer manage the discomfort using over-the-counter medications or the RICE procedure (rest, Ice, compression, elevation), it is time to talk about more advanced treatments. 


Hyaluronic Acid Supplements (gel injections)

This is a therapy where the gel is injected directly into your knee joint acting as an additional lubricant between the joints. This acts as a replacement to the natural acid that is lost as osteoarthritis progresses. Adding this acid helps reduce pain and inflammation. A single dose is injected on a weekly basis for up to five weeks depending on what product is being used. 

Many doctors will try this therapy prior to recommending knee surgery. It does not work for everyone but if it does, you can put off having the invasive knee replacement surgery.  You may experience some side effects from these injections. These include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Burning
  • Rash
  • Blistering

If you experience any of these side effects, contact your doctor. You may have to try another type of injection therapy.

Corticosteroid Injections

The most commonly used injection is the corticosteroid injection. This is used to quickly reduce inflammation and knee pain. The shot does not have as many side effects and is more effective than medications taken orally for inflammation.

Benefits from the shot can sometimes last more than six months for some patients. Others only see benefits for a few days. Either way, the results are only temporary and additional injections may be necessary.

Side effects can be serious, especially if you receive too many doses. These include:

  • Infection in the joint
  • Nerve damage
  • The skin and soft tissue surrounding the site of the injection becomes thinner
  • Osteoporosis
  • High blood sugar for diabetic patients
  • Allergic reaction

If you are exposed to the high levels of cortisol steroids for a long time, it can increase the risk of developing Cushing’s syndrome. The effects of Cushing’s syndrome include:

  • Obesity in your upper body
  • Bruise easily
  • Round-looking face
  • Weak bones
  • Difficulty healing
  • An excessive amount of hair growth

These effects can be reversed by lowering or adjusting the dosage of the cortisone you are receiving.