Types of Knee Injections for Arthritis: Benefits, Side Effects, Cost

Ms. Thula Chelvan
Published at: 15/3/2024

Types of Knee Injections for Arthritis: Benefits, Side Effects, Cost

Key Takeaways

  • Hyaluronic acid injections can cost between $300-$1000 per dose and may provide pain relief and improved joint function.

  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections typically range from $500-$2500, harnessing the body's own healing mechanisms to repair knee tissue.

  • Stem cell therapy, while promising, is expensive, often exceeding $3000, and is considered experimental by many medical professionals.

  • Lipogems and Arthrosamid are newer treatments that utilize fat cells and a polyacrylamide hydrogel, respectively, to cushion the knee joint.

  • Understanding the potential side effects, such as infection or allergic reactions, is crucial before deciding on a knee injection therapy.

6 Types of Knee Injections

When knee arthritis begins to affect your quality of life, it's time to consider your treatment options. One effective method that has brought relief to many is knee injections. These injections can reduce pain, improve mobility, and possibly delay the need for more invasive procedures like knee replacement surgery. But with several types of injections available, it's important to understand the differences between them.

So, let's dive into the world of knee injections, discussing the costs, benefits, and potential side effects of each type. Whether you're just starting to explore this treatment or you're looking for more detailed information, I'm here to guide you through your options.

Understanding Hyaluronic Acid: Viscosupplementation Explained

Often referred to as 'gel injections,' hyaluronic acid injections aim to lubricate your knee joint, making movement smoother and less painful. This substance naturally occurs in your joint fluid and acts as a shock absorber. For those with arthritis, the quality or quantity of this fluid diminishes, leading to increased friction and discomfort.

During viscosupplementation, hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the knee joint, which can:

  • Provide pain relief by improving the lubricating properties of the synovial fluid.

  • Decrease inflammation and potentially slow down the progression of arthritis.

  • Improve knee mobility and function, making daily activities less daunting.

These HA injections are typically given in a series over several weeks and may need to be repeated every six months to a year.

Diving into PRP: How Platelet-Rich Plasma Aids Knee Recovery

Platelet-Rich Plasma injections take a different approach. By concentrating the platelets from your own blood and injecting them into the knee, these treatments utilize growth factors that platelets release to stimulate tissue repair and regeneration. The process involves drawing your blood, separating the platelets, and then injecting them into the affected area.

Here's what PRP can do for your knees:

  • Accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints.

  • Use your body's natural healing process to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Improve joint function and potentially delay the progression of arthritis.

While PRP is gaining popularity, it's important to note that results can vary, and multiple treatments may be necessary.

The Role of Stem Cell Therapy in Regenerating Knee Joint

Stem cell therapy is one of the more cutting-edge options available. This procedure involves harvesting stem cells from your bone marrow or fat tissue and injecting them into the knee. The hope is that these cells can differentiate into cartilage, bone, and other tissues, helping to repair the damaged joint.

Stem cell therapy has the potential to:

  • Reduce knee pain and inflammation.

  • Regenerate damaged cartilage and improve joint function.

  • Offer a less invasive alternative to knee replacement surgery.

However, it's crucial to understand that stem cell therapy is still considered experimental by many health authorities, and insurance often doesn't cover the cost.

Lipogems: Using Your Fat Cells to Treat Arthritis

Lipogems is a newer technique where fat cells are harvested from your body, processed, and then injected into your knee. The premise is that fat cells have a high concentration of reparative cells which can help heal the damaged joint. This procedure is minimally invasive and can be performed in an outpatient setting.

With Lipogems, patients may experience:

  • Decreased knee pain and inflammation.

  • Improved joint mobility.

  • A natural alternative to synthetic injections or major surgery.

While promising, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term benefits and potential risks of this treatment.

Arthrosamid: The New Player in Knee Injection Therapy

Arthrosamid is a type of polyacrylamide hydrogel injection that provides cushioning and support to the knee joint. Unlike other injections, Arthrosamid is not absorbed by the body and is intended to provide long-term relief. It's a single-injection treatment that's gaining attention for its potential to reduce pain and improve knee function.

Benefits of Arthrosamid include:

  • Long-lasting pain relief and improved knee function.

  • A non-biodegradable option that remains in the joint for an extended period.

  • May help patients delay or avoid the need for knee replacement surgery.

As with any new treatment, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if Arthrosamid is suitable for your specific condition.

How Corticosteroids Help with Knee Pain

Corticosteroids mimic the effects of hormones produced naturally in your adrenal glands. When corticosteroid is injected into the knee, it quickly reduces inflammation and offers relief, typically within days of administration. 

Ideal for acute flare-ups, corticosteroid injections are praised for their rapid efficacy. However, their benefits are mostly short-lived, spanning approximately 4 to 8 weeks, making them a temporary solution. Clinical evidence underscores their effectiveness in diminishing knee pain in the short term without promoting disease progression. Yet, their recurrent use is cautioned due to diminishing returns and potential adverse effects.

Side Effects of Knee Injections

As with many medical procedures, knee injections also come with certain side effects. 

Managing Expectations: Hyaluronic Acid Side Effects

While hyaluronic acid injections are generally well-tolerated, they are not without potential side effects. Some individuals may experience pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site. Rarely, allergic reactions can occur, and there is always a small risk of infection with any injection. To minimize these risks, it's essential to have the procedure performed by a skilled healthcare provider.

PRP: Understanding the Risks Along with the Rewards

PRP therapy is considered safe since it uses your own blood, reducing the risk of allergic reactions or disease transmission. However, as with any procedure that involves injections, there is a risk of infection. Some patients may experience pain or irritation at the injection site. It's important to discuss these risks with your doctor to make an informed decision about PRP therapy.

Potential Complications of Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy carries more uncertainty due to its experimental nature. The side effects can vary depending on the source of the stem cells and the individual's reaction to the treatment. Common side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site. More serious risks, such as the formation of bone or other tissue types at the injection site, are rare but have been reported. As stem cell therapy is still being researched, discussing the potential risks with your doctor is crucial.

Lipogems: Safety Profile and Considerations

Lipogems treatment is minimally invasive, and the side effects are typically mild, including temporary swelling and discomfort. Since the procedure uses your own fat cells, the risk of allergic reaction is low. However, as with any procedure, there is a risk of infection. Your healthcare provider can offer guidance on how to minimize potential complications.

Arthrosamid: Known Reactions and Precautions

Arthrosamid injections are generally well-tolerated, but they can cause side effects such as joint stiffness, swelling, or discomfort. Because the hydrogel is not absorbed by the body, there is a theoretical risk of long-term complications, although these are not yet fully understood due to the novelty of the treatment. It's important to have a detailed discussion with your doctor about Arthrosamid's safety profile.

Corticosteroids: Navigating Through Potential Reactions

While corticosteroid injections are generally well-tolerated, they're not without their risks. Post-injection, some individuals may experience a cortisone flare, marked by temporary increased pain due to the cortisone crystals irritating the joint. Repeated injections can lead to more serious concerns, such as joint structure weakening, potential thinning of the bone (osteoporosis), and cartilage breakdown within the joint. These potential side effects highlight the importance of using corticosteroids judiciously, balancing their immediate benefits against long-term risks.

Cost of Knee Injections

Now, let's take a look at the different costs of knee injections.

Breaking Down the Cost of Hyaluronic Acid

The cost of hyaluronic acid injections can vary widely, usually ranging from $300 to $1000 per dose. Insurance coverage for these injections also varies, so it's a good idea to check with your insurance provider. Remember that you may need multiple injections for the full treatment course, which can add to the overall cost.

PRP Treatment: A Price for Healing?

PRP treatments typically cost between $500 and $2500 per injection. Since PRP is often not covered by insurance, this can be a significant out-of-pocket expense. The total cost will depend on the number of injections needed, which is determined by the severity of your knee arthritis and your body's response to the treatment.

The Financial Aspects of Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is one of the more expensive options, often exceeding $3000 per treatment. Because it's considered experimental, insurance usually does not cover stem cell therapy for knee arthritis. If you're considering this treatment, be prepared for the financial commitment it entails.

Investing in Your Joints with Lipogems

Lipogems treatment costs can also be quite high, ranging from $2000 to $4000. The procedure involves specialized equipment and technology, contributing to the cost. As with other newer treatments, check with your insurance provider to understand what, if any, coverage is available.

Arthrosamid: Evaluating the Economic Impact

Arthrosamid is a single-injection treatment, which may seem cost-effective initially. However, the cost can still be significant, typically around $1500 to $3000 per injection. While the long-term benefits may justify the cost for some, it's important to consider your budget and insurance coverage when making a decision.

The Economic Aspect of Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections emerge as a cost-effective option for knee pain relief compared to other injection therapies like hyaluronic acid. Prices can vary widely but typically range from $20 to $300 per injection, with generic options available at the lower end of the cost spectrum. This affordability, coupled with their rapid action, makes corticosteroids an attractive option for immediate relief, albeit with considerations for their short-term efficacy and potential long-term complications.

Which Knee Injection is Better?

When deciding on a knee injection therapy, it's essential to weigh the benefits, side effects, and costs of each option.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Knee Injection Therapies

 Here's a quick comparison of the knee injections to help you get started:

Type of Injection


Potential Side Effects

Approximate Cost

Hyaluronic Acid

Lubricates joint, reduces pain, improves mobility

Pain, swelling, redness at injection site

$300-$1000 per dose


Stimulates tissue repair, reduces inflammation

Infection, pain at injection site

$500-$2500 per injection

Stem Cell Therapy

Potential to regenerate tissue, reduce pain

Pain, swelling, differentiation of cells at injection site

$3000+ per treatment


Minimally invasive, natural alternative, reduces pain

Swelling, discomfort, infection risk

$2000-$4000 per treatment


Long-term pain relief, may delay surgery

Joint stiffness, swelling, unknown long-term effects

$1500-$3000 per injection


Quick pain relief, affordability 

Repeated use may worsen the joint

$20 to $300 per injection

Choosing the right knee injection therapy depends on your specific situation, including the severity of your arthritis, your overall health, and your treatment goals. Discussing the options with your healthcare provider is the best way to determine which therapy is most appropriate for you.

When Should You Consider Knee Injections?

Some knee injections will be more suitable for certain patients. Discover which one might be the best treatment for your knee pain below.

Identifying the Right Time for Intervention

The decision to go for knee injections often comes down to how much your knee pain is affecting your daily life. If you're finding it increasingly difficult to do things like climb stairs, walk your dog, or even just get around your home, it might be time to consider these treatments. Most importantly, if your knee pain is keeping you awake at night or stopping you from doing the things you love, it's definitely time to take action.

Indications and Suitability for Various Knee Injections

Knee injections are suitable for those with osteoarthritis, where the cartilage in the knee joint has worn away, leading to pain and stiffness. Here's a quick guide to help you understand if you're a candidate:

  • Hyaluronic Acid: Ideal for those who haven't found relief with painkillers or physical therapy.

  • PRP: Best for individuals with mild to moderate arthritis or those looking to enhance the healing process.

  • Stem Cell Therapy: Suitable for those seeking an alternative to surgery and willing to try an experimental treatment.

  • Lipogems: Good for patients who prefer a natural approach and are looking for a minimally invasive option.

  • Arthrosamid: May benefit those looking for a long-lasting solution and are open to newer treatments.

  • Corticosteroid: May be good for patients looking for quick knee pain relief and that is affordable.

MSK Doctors for Your Knee Pain Management

When considering knee injections, consulting with a musculoskeletal (MSK) specialist is crucial. These experts can provide a comprehensive assessment of your knee pain and recommend the best course of action. They have the expertise to determine which type of injection therapy will be most effective for your specific condition.

At MSK Doctors, we do exactly that since we’re the leading platform to connect patients with MSK experts. You can fully trust in our guidance, ask questions, and together, work towards a solution that brings you relief and supports your overall joint health.

Contact us today to learn more about knee injections to better manage your knee pain. 

What to Expect During Your Consultation

During your consultation, the specialist will review your medical history, perform a physical examination, and may request imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI. They will discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment option and help you understand what to expect during and after the procedure. This is your opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How Long Do Knee Injection Benefits Last?

The duration of relief from knee injections can vary. Hyaluronic acid injections may provide pain relief for up to six months, while PRP benefits can last for a year or more. Stem cell therapy results are less predictable but have the potential for long-term improvement. Lipogems and Arthrosamid are also designed to offer lasting relief, but individual results can differ.

2. Are Knee Injections Painful?

Most people tolerate knee injections well. You might feel a pinch or pressure during the injection, but severe pain is uncommon. Your doctor may use a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort. Post-procedure pain is usually mild and can be managed with ice and over-the-counter pain relievers.

3. Can Knee Injections Delay Surgery?

Knee injections, particularly hyaluronic acid and PRP, have been shown to delay the need for knee replacement surgery. By providing pain relief and improving joint function, these treatments can allow you to postpone surgery for months or even years.

4. How Many Injections Can You Have in a Year?

The number of injections you can have in a year depends on the type of therapy. For hyaluronic acid, most protocols recommend a series of injections followed by maintenance injections every six months. PRP treatments may be repeated every six months to a year, depending on your response. For stem cell therapy, Lipogems, and Arthrosamid, the frequency is less defined and should be discussed with your specialist. As for Corticosteroid, you should not have more than 3 injections into the same knee joint in a year.

5. Are There Any Alternatives to Knee Injections?

Yes, there are alternatives to knee injections, such as physical therapy, weight management, oral pain relievers, and surgical options like knee replacement. For those looking for non-invasive treatments, lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet modifications can also provide relief.

Living with knee arthritis can be challenging, but knee injections offer a ray of hope. With the right information and a specialist's guidance, you can make an informed decision about which treatment might be best for you. Remember, taking action against your knee pain is the first step towards reclaiming your mobility and quality of life.

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