Knee fillers - cartilage

With a collection of 8 or 10 knee braces, cortisone shots and PT, and still pain, and limping, the orthopedist says the only thing that will help is a series of injections of a material under my knee cap to replace the gone cartilage. Surgery is not indicated, the rest of the knee is fine. This is some kind of cartilage substitute.
Anyone had this done? Did it help? Is it terribly painful? Does insurance typically pick up most of the cost?? People who’ve had this done, please advise. How long can I expect it to last?

Are they hyaluronic acid injections derived from rooster combs? I had those done. It was a series of 5 injections in each knee done weekly. My insurance company considered it a specialty pharmaceutical and my co-pay was high, maybe $150 per injection for the ten injections.

The results were not stellar. The benefit was not as great as I would have wished, and the duration of the relief was not as long as I would have liked, maybe six months worth of benefit. As with any medical treatment results will vary.

Oddly, on the day of the next scheduled injection, both knees felt fine. Like they were trying to convince me I didn’t really need to do that. The doctor said that sometimes happened. Other than that, they worked about as well as the cortisone.

I’ve had one knee replaced, which fixed it. I’m getting around to the other one.

OP, I’m not sure I’m understanding your doctor’s point. Is he saying that pain itself is not sufficient justification for a knee replacement? Is he saying these injections have to be tried first, before knee replacement is decided on, or is he saying that under current conditions (i.e. no other problem except lack of cartilage) knee replacement would never be justified?

I’ve had it done twice in my left ankle, 10+ years apart (it was an off-label use the first time; not sure about the second time). Both times, it was a series of 3 injections, a couple of weeks apart. Both times, I reacted badly to the injections and the ankle swelled up like a balloon and was very painful. But eventually the Synvisc settled into the joint and provided a huge improvement in walking endurance, if not range of motion.

If I needed to, I would do it again, but I’m hoping eventually science will come up with something more permanent that isn’t a joint replacement.

Doc says the cartilage between the knee joint is just fine, and amazing for my age, the only problem is no cartilage at all UNDER the kneecap. He says I am not a candidate for knee replacement and as I understand him, this is it.

Wow. I’ve never heard of that particular sort of cartilage loss. That’s wild.

If I were in this position, I would be seeing another doctor to get a 2nd opinion. Persistent unrelieved pain deserves every possible solution to be considered.

I’ve had this done to my left knee twice. It worked for me and I got about 18 months of relief both times. 3 shots, one week apart, both times. The first time was billed through my health insurance; not sure what I paid all together. The second time the same office ran it through my prescription plan and it was a whole lot cheaper. I really need to have it done again.

I too had the synthetic join fluid injections, back in 2010. Not SynVisc (which is a brand I’d heard of); my doc didn’t like that. I think he used OrthoVisc. Similar basic ingredient (hyaluronic acid).

As others noted, it was a specialty pharmacy thing. I had to mail-order it - which was a huge pain as the pharmacy had to make phone contact with the ortho’s office, and kept not doing so (I honestly think they weren’t even trying).

Mine involved 3 shots, a week or so apart. Not terribly pleasant but better than steroid injections I’ve had into my feet.

It actually made a huge difference. My understanding was that it could be repeated something like twice a year - but I never needed a repeat. My knees got better - and stayed better. Twinges now and then if I overdo something, but never the level of near-crippling pain I was dealing with at the time. Of course, we never knew why long-term minor-ish knee issues suddenly went crazy on me at the time, so the improvement may have been similarly random, but the shots did seem to help.