It is unfortunate how aging comes not just with wisdom, but a wide range of health concerns, too. Some people are also more susceptible to certain conditions because of their genetics. One of the most common conditions many individuals have to live with is chronic pain.
Most patients who experience constant and chronic pain in the knees have a condition known as osteoarthritis. Unlike the usual and temporary joint pains caused by inflammation due to an overactive immune system, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease. As a group of doctors specializing in orthopedics in Boca Raton & Boynton Beach, Orthopaedic Surgery Associates offers and recommends various osteoarthritis management methods, including viscosupplementation.
What is Osteoarthritis?
To better understand how viscosupplementation works for the treatment of osteoarthritis, let us first quickly discuss what osteoarthritis is.
As mentioned above, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, which mainly affects the cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is the tissue that covers and protects the ends of bones where they meet in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to smoothly glide against one another. It also acts as a shock absorber, protecting the joints and bones from wear and tear.
Moreover, a normal and healthy knee joint contains a small amount of viscous fluid, otherwise known as the synovial fluid. This substance is thick and gel-like and cushions the joint. It also provides the lubrication needed to reduce friction.
When a person has osteoarthritis, the surface of the cartilage is worn away. This eventually diminishes its ability to protect the bones at the joints. Furthermore, the synovial fluid also changes in structure or texture. In most cases, it becomes more watery. As a result, it is no longer able to lubricate the joints.
What Causes the Pain in Osteoarthritis?
Many patients decide to visit an orthopedic clinic in Boca Raton when their knee pain is already in an advanced stage and when it no longer responds to over-the-counter pain relief medications. This is why it’s important to know the early signs of osteoarthritis and how it progresses. When the joints such as in the knees lose their protection and lubrication, it’s not difficult to imagine what comes next. The bones will rub against each other when you move. Over time, the constant friction will damage the bones and the tissues surrounding them. Additionally, without sufficient lubrication, the joints become stiff. Inflammation of the joint lining, which also causes pain, is also inevitable.
What is Viscosupplementation?
Viscosupplementation is one of the available treatment options available for osteoarthritis today. In this procedure, a thick fluid called hyaluronate is injected directly into the patient’s knee joint. Its goal is to restore or replicate the lubricating and cushioning properties of the synovial fluid. Hyaluronate is a viscous solution with high molecular weight. It is made up of highly purified sodium hyaluronate combined with physiological saline. Basically, it is designed to mimic hyaluronan, the substance naturally found in the human body and compromised when one has osteoarthritis.
However, patients need to keep in mind that osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that has no actual cure. Viscosupplementation is not a cure for osteoarthritis of the knee. Rather, it will help reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis. As it is designed to reinforce the synovial fluid, it may help patients enjoy improved mobility and comfort.
Who Needs Viscosupplementation and When is It Recommended?
When a patient visits our orthopedic clinic in Boynton Beach to ask about viscosupplementation, we will first conduct a thorough examination and evaluation. In general, viscosupplementation is only recommended when all other treatment options tried by the patient were unsuccessful in relieving their pain.
If you are a first-time patient and you haven’t had treatment for osteoarthritis before, our doctors will first verify if you indeed have osteoarthritis. Following this, non-invasive treatment options are usually considered first. These include prescribing pain medications such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen. We may also recommend physical or occupational therapy as necessary.
How is Viscosupplementation Administered?
As with other treatment methods, the administration of viscosupplementation injections will depend on the patient’s condition and the doctor’s findings. However, three to five injections are normally required. These are given one dose per week.
How Soon Can a Patient Feel Pain Relief After Viscosupplementation?
In light of transparency, we’d like to remind everyone that not all patients are helped by viscosupplementation injections. But those who are fortunate to respond well to the treatment report that they start feeling pain relief within the 3 to 5 weeks that the injections are administered. Meanwhile, some may begin feeling the effects after all of the doses. On average, most patients report the best pain relief within 8 to 12 weeks since they started with viscosupplementation.
Furthermore, the length of pain relief varies between patients. Some people enjoy its benefits up to six months after their round of injections.
Does Viscosupplementation Have Side Effects?
As with other medications and treatments, viscosupplementation may bring about a range of side effects depending on how the patient’s body reacts to it. The most commonly reported side effect felt after every dose is temporary injection-site swelling. This is often accompanied by swelling and redness. Some patients also experience fluid accumulation as well as bruising in the injected knee.
Other side effects observed during clinical trials include headache, back pain, and joint pain. These reactions and side effects are generally mild and do not last long.
Consult With our Orthopedic Experts at Orthopaedic Surgery Associates
The only way to know whether viscosupplementation is right for you is to consult our trusted and licensed orthopedic doctors. After conducting a thorough evaluation that will look into your physical condition and lifestyle, we’ll perform the necessary tests to pinpoint what’s causing your bone and joint pains. After a series of examinations, the physicians at our orthopedic clinic in Boca Raton or orthopedic clinic in Boynton Beach, will then recommend a patient-centered osteoarthritis management plan. This may or may not include viscosupplementation or other surgical and non-surgical treatment procedures.
For more information about Orthovisc Treatment for Knee Joints, click here!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.