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Viscosupplementation in Osteoarthritis

What is Viscosupplementation in Osteoartritis?

Viscosupplementation involves injecting hyaluronic acid, a gel-like fluid, directly into the joint. Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring  synovial fluid surrounding the joints to reduce friction during movement. Viscosupplementation can significantly reduce pain while improving the mobility and function of the joint to make activities of daily living and even athletic or strenuous exercise less painful. It works by lubricating the joint and assisting the synovial fluid to in creating a cushion and lowering the friction on the joint surfaces.. This reduces pain and improve the range of motion or the mobility of the joint.

Viscosupplementation commonly used in patients with osteoarthritis, especially over the knee. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults, may cause the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the knees.

Who will be a good candidate for viscosupplementation?

This treatment seems to work best in people with mild or moderate arthritis. The treatment may particularly make sense if you are trying to delay getting surgery on your joint.

Generally, healthcare providers use viscosupplementation to treat osteoarthritis, but the technique may also benefit people with certain other kinds of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis. You can talk to your healthcare provider about whether it is a choice for your type of arthritis.

Hyaluronic acid injection is not a treatment choice for arthritis in all types of joints. As the stages of osteoarthritis progresses, the duration of relief and efficacy of the medicine diminishes.

What are the risk associated with viscosupplementation?

Pain is by far the commonest complain associated with any knee injections. At Spire Orthopaedics Centre, we try to minimize the  pain associated with any intraarticular injection. Hence, we routinely give local anaesthesia whenever this procedure is performed.

Less common risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Allergic reaction
  • Infection (you should delay your injection if you have any active infection to help prevent this). The risk of any iatrogenic infection of the knee are minimal. Talk to your healthcare provider about all your concerns. Your own risks may vary according to your medical conditions and where and how often you get injections.

What happens during the procedure?

Viscosupplementation is a simple and quick procedure

Your healthcare provider will clean the area with antiseptics prior to the injection. Local anesthetic is also introduced into the area around your joint, so you won’t feel any pain or discomfort in the area during the treatment. 

  • Any excess fluid from the joint will be aspirated prior to the injection. ​
  • Next, your healthcare provider will inject the hyaluronic acid into the joint space using a needle attached to a syringe.
  • A small bandage will be applied to your injection site.​​

Your healthcare provider can give you an even more specific idea of what to expect.  At Spire, the viscosupplementation used is a single shot regime.

How long is the pain relief from viscosupplementation?

Hyaluronic acid injection will not relieve your symptoms immediately. They do take some time to improve It may take several weeks before you begin to notice a difference. Your relief from symptoms may last for several months.

If viscosupplementation is effective for you, you may be able to repeat the injection (or series of injections) in 6 months or so. The procedure doesn’t help everyone, though. If used in the later stages of osteoarthritis, viscosupplementation may not be as effective and alternative pain relief may be a consideration. Please continue to talk to your healthcare 

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