Viscosupplementation is used in the treatment of Osteoarthritis. The procedure consists of an injection of Hyaluronic Acid into the joint. Hyaluronic acid is found in the natural fluid in the joint and acts as a kind of lubricant. Osteoarthritis occurs when there is too little concentration of Hyaluronic acid in a joint, resulting in pain ("wear and tear" arthritis). As the disease progresses, there can be break-down of cartilage. When this breakdown is significant it leads to "bone on bone" contact and more pain. Treatment with Hyaluronic acid can potentially offer some relief of early cartilage breakdown. There are several commercially available preparations from which to choose.
- Your Doctor will inject the preparation into your joint (knee, hip or shoulder). There may be pain with the injection, swelling, and warmth immediately afterwards. There is not usually immediate knee pain relief. Ice packs and/or pain relievers may relieve the pain from the shot.
- For the first 2 days you should avoid excessive weight-bearing, such as standing for long periods, jogging, or heavy lifting.
- You may notice that knee pain lessens as early as a single injection is given. Others may not notice any immediate relief and may require repeated injections for complete relief. Pain relief may last for about 6 months or more, or possibly longer. A second or third shot may be needed for better relief, this will depend on your response to the early treatment.
- Over the course of the injections, you may notice that you have less pain in the joint.
- It has been suggested that Hyaluronic acid may have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. They may also stimulate the body to produce more of its own Hyaluronic acid.
- Viscosupplementation can be helpful for people whose arthritis has not responded to basic treatments. It is most effective if the arthritis is in its early stages (mild to moderate). Some patients may feel pain at the injection site, and occasionally the injections result in increased swelling.
- The long-term efficacy of Viscosupplementation is not yet known and research continues in this area.
- If your arthritis is not responding well or if you are trying to delay surgery, you may wish to discuss this option with your orthopaedic surgeon.