Viscosupplementation Treatment for Knee Arthritis
If you struggle with knee arthritis, you know that this condition can prevent you from everyday tasks or the activities you enjoy. Osteoarthritis of the knee can cause debilitating pain that worsens over time. While there is currently no cure for this condition, there are treatment options available that can help manage symptoms.
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, our highly-experienced, certified knee specialists can perform a procedure called viscosupplementation for arthritis for the knee. This is an injection into your knee joint that lubricates the joint so your bones can glide smoothly and thus lessen the pain caused by arthritis. Our team will discuss with you the best course of action for your knee arthritis that is best suited to your condition to ensure that you can get back to the activities that you love.
If you are wondering if viscosupplementation treatment is right for you, schedule your first consultation with the team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists today. If you’re in an emergency situation, visit the Immediate Care Clinic at our Schaumburg, IL location.
What Is Viscosupplementation?
In its early stages, arthritis of the knee is treated with nonsurgical methods. Your doctor may recommend a range of treatments, including:
- Changes in activity level
- Weight loss
- Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
- Physical therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
Another treatment option is a procedure called viscosupplementation. If you have tried all other nonsurgical treatment methods and your pain continues to limit your activities, viscosupplementation may be an option.
In this procedure, a gel-like fluid called hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in the synovial fluid surrounding joints. It acts as a lubricant to enable bones to move smoothly over each other and as a shock absorber for joint loads. People with osteoarthritis have a lower-than-normal concentration of hyaluronic acid in their joints. The theory is that adding hyaluronic acid to the arthritic joint will facilitate movement and reduce pain.
The most recent research, however, has not found viscosupplementation to be effective at significantly reducing pain or improving function. Although some patients report pain relief with the procedure, some people are not helped by the injections.
Viscosupplementation was first used in Europe and Asia, and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997. Several preparations of hyaluronic acid are now commercially available.
Depending on the product used, you will receive one to five shots over several weeks.
During the procedure, if there is any swelling in your knee, your doctor will remove (aspirate) the excess fluids before injecting the hyaluronic acid. Usually, the aspiration and the injection are done using only one needle injected into the joint, Some doctors may prefer to use two separate syringes.
For the first 48 hours after the shot, you should avoid excessive weight bearing on the leg, such as standing for long periods, jogging or heavy lifting.
You may notice a local reaction, such as pain, warmth, and slight swelling immediately after the shot. These symptoms generally do not last long. You may want to apply an ice pack to help ease them.
Rarely, patients may develop a local allergy-like reaction in the knee. In these cases, the knee may become full of fluid, red, warm, and painful. If this occurs, contact your doctor immediately.
Infection and bleeding are also very rare complications of this procedure.