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In some cases, no surgery is needed at all, and patients may receive treatments such as cortisone injections, viscosupplementation injections, platelet rich plasma injections, bracing, or simply physical therapy.
Cortisone and steroid are interchangeable terms for an anti-inflammatory that is naturally produced in your body. Injectable forms of cortisone are used to provide fast reductions in pain, swelling, and inflammation, which can be used for short-term control of joint discomfort.
One injection typically has few negative consequences, but it is not recommended to have several injections to the same area over a short period of time. We prefer to wait a minimum of 3-6 months between cortisone injections.
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma, and is a concentration of helpful healing proteins from your blood. Because of the high concentration of healing proteins, it can be helpful in speeding up the healing process. The procedure involves drawing a small amount of blood from your arm, then spinning the blood in a centrifuge to separate it into different layers. The plasma, with a high concentration of platelet and healing proteins, is then injected into the affected area of the body.
It is still being studied, so it is not covered by insurance, but research has shown it is effective particularly in tendon injuries and osteoarthritis.
Viscosupplementation is a procedure in which hyaluronic acid is injected into a joint. Hyaluronic acid is a lubricant found in healthy knees, but is reduced in knees with mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
Injections are typically done 1 to 3 times over several weeks, and may provide relief of arthritis symptoms for several months. This can be repeated. It is FDA approved for the knee, but can be used in other joints as well with good results.