Viscosupplementation is a procedure in which a thick gel like fluid called hyaluronic acid is injected intraarticularly into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the synovial fluid which covers the joints. It is mainstream local treatment in osteoarthritis of the knee.
Age-related wear and tear of joints is called osteoarthritis. It is most commonly seen in the knee joint. A healthy knee cartilage acts as shock absorber. The knee joint contains synovial fluid which is a gel-like substance that provides lubrication to the knee joint and reduces friction. In osteoarthritis when the surface area of the knee cartilage starts wearing off, the synovial fluid starts losing its ability to reduce friction. This results in knee pain, stiffness, limited range of motions, cracking sound in the knee while walking etc.
In early stages of osteoarthritis NSAIDs, weight loss, knee braces, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injection are usually suggested. If the pain is persisting even after these treatments viscosupplementation is the option in the non-surgical treatments.
Hyaluronic acid is a long polysaccharide chain, with a hydrophilicity that gives it the viscoelastic properties underlying the mechanical properties of cartilage i.e., shock absorption and synovial fluid i.e., protection of cartilage and lubrication of the joint. It improves the mobility of the joint and increases comfort level during activities. The idea behind viscosupplementation is to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Your doctor first injects local anaesthesia into the space around your knee joint and drain any fluid that is causing the knee joint to inflamed. Then, your doctor will inject hyaluronic acid into the space inside your joint. It is an OPD procedure and you can go home after it. This procedure is relatively safe and shows rare to none side effects. In rare cases the patient may feel temporary pain at the injection site, slight swelling or rash around the joint. These reactions are rare and don’t last long.
Usually, viscosupplementation is a line of treatment for osteoarthritis. It also benefits patients with other arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis. Knee joint is the standard site of viscosupplementation. It can also be given into hip or other joints according to the patient’s condition.
At Spinalogy, doctors suggest taking viscosupplementation every year to maintain the good health of joint cartilage.