Is Viscosupplementation Right for Me?

Apr 05, 2023
Is Viscosupplementation Right for Me?
Osteoarthritis can be a mild annoyance or a significant disability depending on its severity. If your osteoarthritis disrupts your daily routine, consider viscosupplementation.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition, and the knees are particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis pain. The knee joints get a workout during your lifetime, helping to support your upper body while bending and twisting countless times. 

Dr. Ben Albert, MD, with Scottsdale Hip and Knee in Scottsdale, Arizona, provides nonsurgical options to relieve osteoarthritis symptoms and performs joint replacement surgery when other treatments fail to provide relief.

Treatment for osteoarthritis often includes medication, cortisone shots, or physical therapy. But if conservative treatments don’t effectively relieve your pain or you’re concerned about medication side effects or addiction, Dr. Albert may recommend viscosupplementation, also known as gel injections.

What’s viscosupplementation? 

Viscosupplementation is an injection or series of injections using a derivative of a natural substance already found in your body: hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid is part of the synovial fluid that coats the cartilage on your joints. Cartilage is the tough tissue that prevents the bones in your joints from rubbing together. 

When you have osteoarthritis, your cartilage experiences significant wear-and-tear, deteriorating so much that moving your joints creates friction. Also, aging depletes hyaluronic acid levels.

Hyaluronic acid injections replenish the protective fluid and restore the cushion between the bones in your joints. Viscosupplementation may help you postpone or even avoid surgery. 

It’s important to note that viscosupplementation doesn’t work for everyone. Speak with Dr. Albert to figure out if this treatment option is suitable for you.

What happens during a viscosupplementation appointment? 

To start the process, we clean the area around the injection site and Dr. Albert administers an anesthetic to numb the knee joint and a numbing spray to the skin which allows him to inject the gel into your knee with minimal pain. You may feel some discomfort during the injection from the increased volume in your knee joint. Due to the technique Dr. Albert uses to inject your knee, most patients are pleasantly surprised at the low level of pain they experience from the injection. He places a small bandage on the knee after the injection. 

Dr. Albert lets you know how many hyaluronic acid injections are optimal for your situation; he typically recommends 1-3 shots over a period of weeks. 

After your viscosupplementation appointment 

Take it easy after your gel injection procedure. Wait at least two days before doing any heavy lifting, going to the gym, jogging, or taking long walks. An ice pack can help relieve discomfort. 

Be patient; the treatment may take a while to take full effect. You should feel the greatest relief 2-3 months after treatment starts, and the effects can last six months or more. If you want to have surgery at some point or are thinking about it but would like to delay it for some time, , hyaluronic acid can provide a period of relief prior to the surgery.

Call Scottsdale Hip and Knee: Ben Albert, MD or book your appointment online if you’re looking for relief from osteoarthritis or other musculoskeletal pain. We can help you find a solution.