Comparing two types of shots
However, no clinical trials had ever compared the two most common types of knee arthritis injections, cortisone jabs and hyaluronic acid shots, Felson points out.
The two types of shots do different things in the joint, and are sometimes used in combination, Leber says.
Cortisone shots are anti-inflammatory and help reduce pain, while hyaluronic acid injections are like a gel that provides lubrication in the ailing joint.
“You’re injecting WD40 almost into the knee. That acts to allow smoother gliding in the joint,” Leber explains.
Unlike cortisone, hyaluronic acid gel isn’t harmful to cartilage.
The latest study looked at nearly 800 people with knee arthritis, of whom 4 out of 5 reported getting cortisone shots for their knee pain. The rest had reported receiving hyaluronic acid injections.
After seven years of follow-up, researchers found that those who got steroid injections had no greater cartilage loss than those treated with hyaluronic acid.
In fact, people who got cortisone shots were about 25% less likely to need a total knee replacement than those who got hyaluronic acid.
The message to knee arthritis patients regarding cortisone shots is simple, Felson says: “Don’t be scared.”