Viscosupplementation is a procedure involving the injection of hyaluronic acid into the joint to treat arthritis. Hyaluronic acid is a thick fluid that helps reduce pain and swelling in arthritic joints, most commonly the knee.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage at the ends of the joints breaks down. This cartilage is coated in a fluid containing hyaluronic acid, which serves as a lubricant and shock absorber. Patients suffering from osteoarthritis commonly present with low levels of hyaluronic acid in their joints, leading to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and swelling. Viscosupplementation replaces the hyaluronic acid in the joints, reducing symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
Viscosupplementation is a relatively quick procedure and involves the following steps:
The physician will clean the skin around the target area
If excess fluid is present in the joint, the physician will remove a small amount of fluid
Local anesthetic is injected around the joint so the patient does not feel any pain or discomfort
A small needle is positioned using X-ray guidance, then hyaluronic acid is injected
The injection site is bandaged
If the injection is effective, it may be repeated every 6 months for long term pain relief.
Viscosupplementation is effective in treating osteoarthritis, most commonly in the knee. Symptoms associated with osteoarthritis include the following:
Pain in the affected joint during or after movement
Joint stiffness after periods of inactivity
Tenderness when light pressure is applied
Loss of flexibility in the affected joint
Grating sensation and popping or crackling sounds
Bone spurs forming around the affected joint
Swelling caused by soft tissue inflammation