Chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis or an injury is something no one should have to live with. You may think that your only option to relieve the pain on a long-term basis is to have knee replacement surgery – but fortunately, it’s not. A minimally invasive injection-based treatment that works to relieve chronic knee pain is called viscosupplementation.
Viscosupplementation can not only reduce your pain by keeping the joint lubricated, but it can also greatly slow down the progression of your arthritis. This can help to save your knee from further internal damage.
What Is Viscosupplementation and What Does It Do?
Also known as hyaluronic acid injection or hyaluronan injection, viscosupplementation is a relatively quick in-office procedure in which a thick protein-based gel is injected into the knee to reduce inflammation and provide lubrication. This injection treatment is specifically designed to supplement the fluid which is already present in your joint, thickening it so that you feel much less pain.
The effectiveness of viscosupplementation has been clinically proven. In one particular study in 2015, more than 182,000 patients who had total knee replacement surgery were observed. Those who had one hyaluronic acid injection after they had been diagnosed with knee arthritis were able to delay their knee surgery by an average of 1.4 years, while those who didn’t have an injection had to undergo the surgery within 114 days after their diagnosis.
The earlier you start on the treatment after your arthritis diagnosis, the greater its effectiveness. Ongoing viscosupplementation injections can reduce the likelihood of needing knee surgery in the future.
Viscosupplementation vs. Knee Replacement
There are certain risks involved in having knee replacement surgery that do not apply to simple viscosupplementation injections.
Any major surgery comes with the risk of infection, and complications from the anesthesia. With knee replacement surgery in particular, there is the risk of ongoing stiffness and loss of motion in the new prosthetic knee joint.
On the other hand, the only rare and minor risks with viscosupplementation injections include a flare-up of arthritis right after the injection, pain at the injection site, infection, or an allergic reaction.
What the Treatment Process Entails
Your doctor will first sterilize the area and use lidocaine to numb the injection site. In some cases, imaging is used so your doctor can place the injection into the precise spot. If there is excessive fluid in your joint, your doctor might remove a small amount of it before performing the injection.
Next, the doctor will inject the hyaluronic acid into the joint space using a needle attached to a syringe. Finally, a small bandage will be applied to the injection site.
Recovery only requires a day’s rest after the injection in order to give your knee time to absorb the hyaluronic acid. The treatment then begins to reduce your pain and inflammation. Resting the area will also help to reduce the chance that the gel will flush out from the joint.
Immediately following the injection, you can perform light activities, but you should avoid heavy lifting, running, or any strenuous physical activity that involves your knee.
Viscosupplementation Injections in Farmington Hills, Michigan
Why endure knee pain simply because you fear knee surgery? Here at Tri County Orthopedics, we offer viscosupplementation and other minimally invasive and noninvasive methods to treat your joint pain. Dr. Linard and Dr. Lennox will explain how often you will need to have the injections and how long they should last in preventing knee pain.
Tri County Orthopedics provides the finest patient-centered care available in Farmington Hills, Michigan. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified orthopedists, please call our office at (248) 474-5575 or fill out our convenient online request form. We look forward to helping you enjoy life without knee pain once again!