As part of the normal aging process, joints produce less fluid, cartilage thins out, and ligaments lose flexibility. Osteoarthritis is mostly an age-related condition that breaks down the cartilage that would normally function as a cushion to prevent bones from chafing. The result is painful, swollen and stiff joints.
What are Knee Injections and How Do They Help With Pain?
A knee injection is a shot that helps relieve joint pain and inflammation. Knee replacement surgery is costly, carries a long recovery time, and comes with the risk of infection or blood clots. On the other hand, injections are very safe, inexpensive, and require little or no time to recover. Your doctor gives you a shot, and that’s pretty much it!
So, how do knee gel shots work?
When your doctor gives you the shot, it sends anti-inflammatory fluid into the joint. This fluid helps lubricate the knee joint and allows for pain-free movement. It also replaces lost cartilage that cushions your bones. Doctors most often prescribe these injections (also known as injections of hyaluronic acid) for chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis.
The effects of these shots last for up to 6 months. During this time, you will have a broader range of movement with your knees. You will also have less knee pain during daily activities. However, these shots may have some adverse side effects like swelling or muscle stiffness. You will also feel some pain at the injection site.
Different Types of Knee Injections
Here are a few of the most common types:
- Corticosteroid – When injected in the knee or other joints, Corticosteroid injections reduce pain and inflammation. These effects generally last for 2-3 months. A patient can only receive a limited number of these injections per year.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) – PRP shots use a patient’s plasma to promote healing of the soft tissue and reduce inflammation. Doctors frequently use these injections to treat osteoarthritis, as they are low risk and have limited side effects.
- Hyaluronic Acid Injections (HA) or Viscosupplementation – These are the technical terms for knee gel injections. As outlined above, a Hyaluronic Acid injection reduces pain and inflammation by mimicking the effects of natural joint fluid. They are best for patients with diabetes, as they do not raise blood sugar levels like Corticosteroid shots. Gel-One is one of the most commonly prescribed forms of HA treatment.
How Does Medicare Cover Knee Injection Treatment?
Medicare will cover knee injections once every six months if they are medically necessary. The injections are covered under Medicare Part B and subject to the annual Part B deductible. X-rays are required prior to Medicare approval.
As mentioned above, there are many different injection treatments for the knees. But will Medicare pay for them?
- Does Medicare cover Corticosteroid shots? Yes!
- Does Medicare cover PRP shots? No. Most health insurance plans don’t cover PRP shots.
- Does Medicare cover HA shots? Yes!
If you would like to discuss using your Medicare insurance to cover knee injections, call (937) 436-5763 to schedule an appointment with our orthopedic team.