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EDUCATION CENTER: Therapies

Viscosupplementation Injections

Overview
Viscosupplementation injections may benefit patients suffering from osteoarthritis who have not responded to traditional physical therapy or N-SAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, such as ibuprofen) use. Viscosupplementation is made from hyaluronan, a substance present in normal joint fluid. Hyaluronan keeps joints elastic and viscous, and helps the knee to absorb shock. Viscosupplementation injections work by restoring elasticity and viscosity to the joint.

Detailed Description
Procedure
A doctor administers viscosupplementation through a series of three weekly injections. Before each injection, your doctor will assess the position of your patella and determine the injection site.

After cleaning the area with Betadine or alcohol, you will receive local anesthesia in the form of either an injection or spray to numb the area. If the knee is swollen, your doctor will aspirate the area by withdrawing the fluid from your knee. After he has removed the fluid, he will inject the viscosupplementation directly into the joint.

Recovery
You may experience pain at the injection site, or pain in the joint for several hours after the injection; however, it is mild and temporary. Some patients feel the effectiveness of viscosupplementation injections after the first shot, although others do not feel relief until the third injection. Either way, the patient will continue the course of treatment until the conclusion of all three shots.

Viscosupplementation injections provide relief of osteoarthritis pain for an average of 8 to 9 months, with some patients’ reports of relief over 12 months. If the patient responds well to the treatment, viscosupplementation injections can be repeated after their effectiveness wears out.

Complications
Possible side effects include pain at the injection site, swelling, a mild rash or redness, bruising, or heat. The side effects are mild and generally dissipate quickly, although in rare cases, allergic reactions are possible. Viscosupplementation is an avian product, so you should let your doctor know if you are allergic to eggs, poultry or feathers. Finally, inform your doctor if you are pregnant before receiving the injections.

Last updated: 26-Oct-01


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