What Is Osteoarthritis?
With the aging of the world’s population, age-related diseases become rampant, especially osteoarthritis. It is one of the most common forms of joint disease and is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. It is a slow, progressive, and debilitating process with a high prevalence in the adult population.
Unlike the temporary pain and inflammation caused by an overactive immune system response, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease. This means that the function or the structure of the affected tissue or organ changes for the worse over time. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are a number of treatment options available to help people manage the pain and slow down the condition’s progression.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
The cartilage acts as a “shock absorber” so that our bones will not have to take the full impact of everyday walking, running, and many more. When the cartilage cap breaks down, the bones of your joint scrape together abnormally. Our knees have a thick, gel-like liquid that called the synovial fluid. One of the components of synovial fluid called hyaluronic acid provides lubrication between the bones and cartilage. People with osteoarthritis have a lower concentration of hyaluronic acid in their joints. This causes symptoms such as:
- Limitation of joint motion
- Inflammation in the knees
- Stiffness at the joint
Your doctor may suggest a range of several treatments such as:
- Changes in activity level
- Pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Weight loss
- Corticosteroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Bone Realignment
- Joint Replacement
If you have tried all the treatments enumerated and nothing seems to work, maybe it’s time you try viscosupplementation.
What Is Viscosupplementation?
As mentioned earlier, osteoarthritis is caused by an insufficient amount of hyaluronic acid which acts as a lubricant between the bones and cartilage. Viscosupplementation is a procedure in which a thick fluid called hyaluronate is injected into the knee joint. The hyaluronate fills the joint area and increases lubrication in the joints, making movement easier and provide a more comfortable level of activity. It would also slow down the progression of the condition.
This treatment option is usually reserved until all other treatment options have been exhausted. If there are no significant improvements in your condition with your current treatment options, viscosupplementation might be a good choice to help ease your symptoms. Depending on the brand that your provider will use, this treatment involves three to five injections, with a 1-week interval before the next procedure.
Although viscosupplementation is becoming more popular in treating osteoarthritis, getting a certified doctor is still important in achieving its full effectiveness.
Who Can Benefit From Viscosupplementation Treatment
Viscosupplementation is ideal for those people who have mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Candidates for viscosupplementation include elderly patients across the osteoarthritis spectrum. This can also be beneficial for younger patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis, and patients with late-stage osteoarthritis before a total knee replacement. Patients who are too young for total knee replacement who cannot take NSAIDs, or who have multiple comorbidities may also be considered for this treatment.
How Is Viscosupplementation Done?
The procedure is relatively quick that you can just go home shortly after the procedure. Here are the steps for the procedure:
- Your healthcare provider will clean the area of procedure
- The healthcare provider will also inject a local anesthetic in the area of your joint so you don’t have to feel pain or discomfort during the procedure.
- In some cases, the healthcare provider may also use imaging to be able to inject the hyaluronate in the right spot.
- Should you have excess fluid in your joint, your healthcare provider might remove a small amount of that fluid before beginning.
- The healthcare provider will then inject the hyaluronate into the joint space using a needle attached to a syringe.
- After the injection, a small bandage will be applied to your injection site.
Your healthcare provider may give you specific instructions and recommend medications for the swelling after the procedure. Follow all your healthcare provider’s instructions about medicines and follow-up care.
Viscosupplementation can be beneficial to those people suffering from osteoarthritis as it helps reduce the pain of the knee, enhance mobility, and improve quality of life. Should you have more questions about viscosupplementation, you can schedule a meeting with Dr. Ronak Patel. He is a pain management specialist in New Jersey who specializes in the treatment of back pain, neck pain, joint pain, facial pain as well as cancer-related pain. You can call him at (609) 269 4451 to schedule an appointment with him.