Giving Your Joints Some Relief — Viscosupplementation
- Posted on: Nov 15 2017
Your joints naturally have lubricating fluid to keep them moving without friction. This is good because friction leads to pain. A key component of that lubricating fluid is called hyaluronic acid. When osteoarthritis, commonly thought of as “wear and tear” arthritis, impacts a joint the hyaluronic acid concentration drops.
At Urgent Orthopedic Specialists, we add hyaluronic acid back to inflamed joints. The process is called viscosupplementation.
What is viscosupplementation?
Viscosupplementation is a big word that means injecting hyaluronic acid into a joint. This procedure is sometimes called hyaluronic acid injections or hyaluronan injections.
Why is this needed?
A healthy knee joint has up to 4 mL of joint fluid within the joint capsule. Hyaluronic acid is a key component of this fluid. Hyaluronic acid is what gives the fluid its slippery quality. The viscous nature of the fluid allows the cartilage-covered surfaces in the joint to slide against each other, reducing friction. It also adds cushioning to protect the joints during impact.
By adding hyaluronic acid to the existing joint fluid of an osteoarthritic knee, the goal is to facilitate better movement, reduce pain, and slow the progress of arthritis.
Patients who we perform these injections on have tried other non-surgical options such as physical therapy, but their condition didn’t improve.
During viscosupplementation, we inject a small amount of hyaluronic acid, often around 2 mL, directly into the joint capsule. By adding hyaluronic acid back to the joint, it artificially supplements the joint fluid’s natural viscosity, making it more slippery again.
When this hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint, the goal is to improve function and slow the degeneration of the joint. At this point, the FDA has approved viscosupplementation only on knee joints. It can be used for treating hip osteoarthritis and other joints, but this is considered “off-label” use at this time.
How successful is viscosupplementation?
Viscosupplementation doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does, it can provide excellent pain relief. Studies show that successful viscosupplementation provides pain relief for three months up to one year. The greatest pain relief comes between five and 13 weeks after the injection.
If you have chronic knee pain, viscosupplementation could be a good option. Call the team at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists, 432-520-3020, and let’s discuss your options.
Posted in: Joint Pain & Replacement