Viscosupplementation for Knee Arthritis

Description

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.

Indications

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