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Hyalgan Treatment for Osteoarthritis

  • Date: 2010/03/02 (Rev: 2018/03/15) Thomas C Weiss - Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Hyalgan is a medication used to treat knee pain in people with osteoarthritis in the knees.

Main Document

Hyalgan is a medication used to treat knee pain in people with osteoarthritis in the knees...

What is Hyalgan

In early 2008, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in my knees, hips and ankles. The condition has been present for quite some time; I had simply not pursued a diagnosis. One of the first things I sought medical help for was my right ankle, I had injured it and ended up wearing a, 'boot,' for a period of time. The injury led to a diagnosis of osteoarthritis or, 'degenerative joint disease.' In December of 2008 I went through surgery on both of my knees to remove the torn meniscus in both knees, as well as to deal with some bone deterioration in both of them.

As time has passed my joints have worsened, and I approached a doctor through the Veterans Administration about it. He prescribed something that, 'sort of,' worked for a period of time, and then I found myself fighting to get an appointment with my VA doctor because of the many veterans already at home, as well as all of the returning soldiers from wars. I set an appointment with a civilian doctor, who prescribed something called, 'Hyalgan.' I had no idea what this was, so I did a little research.

Hyalgan, it turns out, is a medication that is used to treat knee pain in people with osteoarthritis in the knees. The treatment is used for people who have not responded to other forms of treatment such as Tylenol, exercise, or physical therapy. 'Hyaluronate,' which is also known as, 'hyaluronan,' is similar to a substance that is naturally found in a person's joints. Hyalgan works by performing as a shock absorber or lubricant in the person's joint, assisting their knee to move more smoothly, and thereby decreasing the pain the person experiences. The substance is a natural liquid.

Hyalgan is one of the hyaluronates that is used in visco-supplementation, and has been studied for treatment of osteoarthritis since the 1970's. The treatment was approved in May of 1997, and is considered to be a treatment, not a drug. Hyalgan use for other joints in a person's body is currently being studied, and I personally hope these studies show that it is effective.

How Is Hyalgan Administered

Now for the, 'ouch,' part... Hyalgan is injected directly into a person's knee by their health care professional. The shots can be given in conjunction with shots that ease the pain of the Hyalgan injections. For the treatment to be effective, a person needs to receive between three and five Hyalgan shots in their knee. Yeah - ouch.

I am receiving five Hyalgan shots per knee. Each of these shots is preceded by a shot of lidocaine to numb the injection site before the shot of Hyalgan. So - a total of twenty shots between the two knees I have, over a five-week period of time. What this means is that every week on Tuesday, for five weeks straight, I am going in to see my doctor and receive two shots per knee. Wendy, my lovely wife, is a nurse. She tells me that the first ones are the worst, and I am past those.

To tell you the honest truth, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. People have visions of a needle in a joint and get the shudders sometimes, but my doctor is very good. I just gave the table a good grip. I even managed not to swear at anyone.

The five injections could give me pain relief over a six-month period of time - well worthwhile. Some people are able to achieve the same results with only three injections. The amount of Hyalgan used is something that is determined by your doctor, and depends upon your particular medical condition and your response to the treatment.

After receiving Hyalgan injections, people should avoid activities that put stress on their knees. Activities such as tennis, jogging, heavy lifting, or standing on their feet for more than an hour for the first forty-eight hours should be avoided. After receiving a Hyalgan injection, a person might experience some increased swelling or pain at first. If the swelling or pain continues, they should contact their doctor. It is also important to have the shots as they are scheduled.

Are There Any Side-Effects

Personally, I haven't noticed anything more than sore knees after receiving my first of the series of shots. Some aching and occasional sharp pains - but I have been living with those on a regular basis anyway. I could feel the injection site for a couple of days afterwards. I am also taking pain medications as well, and they helped. The most common side effects of Hyalgan injections are just what I have described - pain and swelling. Other side-effects can include heat, redness, itching, rash, or bruising around the joint. The side-effects are usually pretty mild and do not last very long. Side-effects of Hyalgan shots may also include:

  • Fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Fainting
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Stomach pressure or pain
  • Redness of the feet or hands
  • Trouble with breathing

If these side-effects do occur, it is important to contact a doctor or pharmacist. These side-effects are rare, but need to be reported promptly.

Who Should Consider Using Hyalgan

When considering Hyalgan as a form of treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain, it is important to consider simple painkillers, exercise and physical therapy first. If these do not work, treatment with Hyalgan may be right for you depending on how far your osteoarthritis has progressed, how much pain you are experiencing, and the things that have or have not worked for you in the past. While there is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, the pain can be managed. Hyalgan treatment may help to relieve osteoarthritis knee pain and help you to continue doing the things you want to do.

Who Should Not Consider Using Hyalgan

People who are allergic to Hyalgan clearly should not use it, or any other Hyaluronate products. People who have infections or skin diseases around the area where they will receive Hyalgan injections should not receive Hyalgan treatment. If you are allergic to products from birds, such as eggs, poultry, or feathers - you should not pursue Hyalgan treatment.

A health care professional will review your medical history with you and examine your knees to determine if Hyalgan treatment is safe for you. Hyalgan is not known to excrete into breast milk. Women should consult with their doctor before breast-feeding if they are pursuing Hyalgan treatment. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting the course of treatment.

How Soon Does Hyalgan Work

Some people experience the benefits of Hyalgan treatments within a week or two after their third injection. The amount of pain relief differs from person to person, and can depend on the severity of pain the person is experiencing. Some people can benefit from three Hyalgan shots at weekly intervals; others need the five shot series. While individual results vary, the average period of time people achieve relief for is six months.

Each individual responds in a different way to pain. For some, treatment with Hyalgan gives them all of the osteoarthritis knee pain relief they need. For others, like me - I have been lifting other people, as well as power chairs and other forms of adaptive equipment for twenty-four years - prescription medications are needed in conjunction with Hyalgan treatment. Fortunately, Hyalgan has no known drug interactions, although if you have questions it is important to ask your health care provider. Hyalgan treatment can safely be repeated every six months, according to a thirty-month study.

What Else Should I Know

Arthritis in general is a joint disorder that features inflammation. A joint is an area of a person's body where two different bones meet, and functions to move the parts that are connected by its bones. 'Arthritis,' literally means inflammation of one or more of a person's joints.

Arthritis is commonly accompanied by joint pain which is called, 'Arthralgia.' There are a number of types of arthritis, currently over one-hundred and growing. The types of arthritis range from ones related to the wear and tear of cartilage, such as osteoarthritis, to ones that are associated with inflammation that are the result of an over-active immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The various types of arthritis comprise the most common chronic illness in America today.

I always joked about developing back problems as I ran around helping fellow people with disabilities through the years. It never even occurred to me that I might develop osteoarthritis. From what I understand, some of this may have to do with family history; unfortunately, I don't know a lot of my family's medical history. Despite following all of the rules, as I was appropriately taught them many years ago, concerning lifting of people and other things - I now have osteoarthritis in my ankles, knees and hips.

My knees started bothering me in my late 30's; I am now 45 years old. I did not stop helping fellow people with disabilities until the very year I had surgery on my knees, although I was unable to lift anyone at that point. It is my great hope that where pain medications and other forms of therapy have failed, this series of Hyalgan shots will help.

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