If you suffer from chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis, you may find that regular consumption of pain-relieving medications is the only thing that brings even temporary relief. You may still be reluctant to rely on these medications long-term, particularly if you've developed osteoarthritis at a relatively young age and fear you'll be facing decades of chronic pain until you're eligible for a total knee replacement. Fortunately, there is now a relatively non-invasive treatment option that can help increase the range of motion in your knee and decrease the amount of pain you experience on a regular basis. Read on to learn more about hyaluronan injections to determine whether this is a viable way to eliminate your knee pain.

What does injecting hyaluronan into your knee joint do?

Hyaluronan is a natural substance found within your knee. Like the oil you regularly put into your vehicle's engine, this hyaluronan circulates throughout your knee, lubricating the contact points and cushioning impact while walking, running, or squatting. When you have osteoarthritis, bone spurs or flattened areas on the points of contact between your knee and femur or tibia can increase friction, causing inflammation and pain. By injecting additional hyaluronan into your joint, you'll be able to reduce this friction and minimize the effect of higher-impact exercises or activities on a more fragile-than-normal joint.

Because hyaluronan is naturally produced by your own body, you won't need to worry about any potentially harmful health effects (unless you're allergic to one of the ingredients in the specific injection preparation, like eggs or certain chemicals). Over time, your body will break down this hyaluronan just as it does that produced by your own body. 

How do you know whether you're a good candidate for these injections? 

While these injections can provide long-lasting relief for many patients, they may not be the best choice for everyone. If you deal with allergic reactions to certain egg-based medications, you'll need to request an egg-free formulation that could take longer (and cost more) than the default option. Those with rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases could also suffer potential complications from these injections, as an already over-sensitive immune system could perceive these injections as the "enemy" and mount an inflammatory response. Finally, you'll want to avoid hyaluronan injections if you've already had a partial knee replacement.

However, for those who don't have allergies or immune issues, these injections may be the best natural pain-relieving option. If you're concerned about a reliance on prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers, you may want to ask your orthopedic suegeon about hyaluronan.