Viscosupplementation | Alternative Treatment for Osteoarthritis
A healthy knee has articular cartilage lining the joint and synovial fluid that provides nutrition and cushioning to the cartilage in the knee. Synovial fluid provides a low-friction cushion and shock absorber by which the hard surfaces of the knee slide past each other. A person can experience compression forces several times their body weight in the knee so this shock absorber is very important.
However, because of age, genetics and/or injuries, arthritis of the knee can develop. Arthritis is a condition where the articular cartilage becomes damaged, broken down or worn away. This can lead to significant pain and impacts a patient’s everyday activities. In osteoarthritis, the synovial fluid can become less viscous and less elastic and can provide less shock absorption to the knee.
Viscosupplementation is a procedure done by a physician where a preparation of hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in the synovial fluid of the knee joint. It acts as a lubricant and shock absorber to enable bones/cartilage to move smoothly over one another. Since arthritis patients have lower than normal hyaluronic acid in their joints, viscosupplementation can be used to increase the concentration of hyaluronic acid in the knee. Research studies have shown that viscosupplementation injections with hyaluronic acid can lessen arthritic pain and improve function.
Things to keep in mind when getting viscosupplementation:
- Viscosupplementation is an alternative treatment for osteoarthritis in which oral medications are not a good option or are ineffective.
- Viscosupplementation should be performed using modern injection techniques & equipment with a goal to maximize patient comfort.
- Ultrasound Guidance is preferred to help ensure that the treatment is delivered properly in the knee joint
- After the injections, you may feel a “fullness” in the knee joint. This should resolve soon.
- For 48 hours after the shot, avoid prolonged standing, jogging or heavy lifting.
- Treatment is usually a series of 3 shots over the course of several weeks.
- After the injection series is completed, the goal of course is to feel a lessening of your knee pain symptoms.
Kinds of viscosupplementation: