How Effective is Viscosupplementation Therapy in Remedying Knee Pain?

As the largest joints in your body, your knees affect your mobility and your freedom to live a normal lifestyle. When knee pain occurs, it can interfere with every step you take and significantly affect your quality of life.

Resolving knee pain starts with diagnosing the problem. A frequent cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. At least 19% of US adults age 45 or older suffer from this condition.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage on the ends of your bones wears away. Knee pain results when two bare joints rub against each other without the cushioning effect of cartilage between them.

Initial therapy for knee pain typically involves pain medication and/or physical therapy. If your knee pain is related to the effects of osteoarthritis and these treatments don’t work, you may benefit from viscosupplementation therapy.

This treatment works to restore the lubrication lost to osteoarthritis or age. Better joint lubrication reduces inflammation and other symptoms such as pain and stiffness.

Our knee pain specialists at TruWell Health in St Petersburg, Florida, have the expertise necessary to determine whether viscosupplementation therapy is right for you.

Based on the cause and degree of knee pain, we may recommend viscosupplementation as a solution for your symptoms. While viscosupplementation therapy won’t cure your knee pain, the procedure can make a difference in your daily level of comfort and mobility.

The treatment is often paired with physical therapy to help strengthen the joint and improve range of motion.

How does viscosupplementation work?

Viscosupplementation involves the injection of hyaluronic acid into your knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring lubricant that promotes smoother joint movement, reduces friction in the joint, and slows the progression at osteoarthritis. Having lower levels of hyaluronic acid may limit joint motion, resulting in joint pain, and stiffness.

As you age, your levels of hyaluronic acid decrease. You’re also more likely to have lower concentrations of hyaluronic acid if you have knee osteoarthritis.

What types of knee pain does viscosupplementation treat?

Viscosupplementation is typically used as a second-line treatment for knee pain from osteoarthritis. You may benefit from viscosupplementation if your knee pain hasn’t improved with nonsurgical treatments such as:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss

Viscosupplementation may be inappropriate for your knee pain if you have a knee joint infection, skin disease, or a bleeding disorder. It may not be effective for overweight people, who may have a narrowing of the joint space in the knee.

What is involved in getting viscosupplementation shots?

The entire viscosupplementation treatment consists of between one and five hyaluronic acid shots over several weeks.

During the in-office procedure, we use state-of-the-art fluoroscopy, an imaging technique that conveys real-time moving images of the inside of your knee. The result acts like an X-ray movie to provide continuous images on a monitor for accurate injection.

Viscosupplementation may cause some pain and swelling that subsides with rest and ice applications. We may advise you to avoid strenuous or weight-bearing activities for 48 hours after the injection.

What results can I expect with viscosupplementation?

It’s difficult to predict which patients will benefit from viscosupplementation. The procedure isn’t successful for everyone, and determining results takes time. It may take at least four weeks after the initial injection for you to begin to notice a difference in your knee pain.

Viscosupplementation is most effective in cases of mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. It may be less effective if you’re older or have severe osteoarthritis.

When it works, the treatment can provide relief from knee osteoarthritis pain for two to six months. The most effective period typically occurs between weeks five and 13. If you experience initial improvement with this treatment, additional injections may provide relief up to three years.

For patients with knee osteoarthritis who want to delay the need for total knee replacement, viscosupplementation may provide appropriate relief to temporarily postpone surgery.

Find out more about viscosupplementation and whether it may be right for treating your knee pain. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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