FAQ: Viscosupplementation

For Dr Ahmad Patients

What is Visco-Supplementation?

Visco-supplementation is a procedure that injects hyaluronic acid into a knee with osteoarthritis. Hyaluronic acid is normally derived from rooster comb and it is a naturally occurring fluid found in a normal human joint. In osteoarthritis, the joint wears, the surface of the bones become rough, the joint fluid becomes thin, and the space between the bones becomes smaller. Hyaluronic acid is a gel-like substance that is elastic and helps cushion and lubricate the knee joint. The lubrication from the visco-supplementation may help relieve the pain and stiffness that is caused by your osteoarthritis. Visco-supplementation has been FDA approved for osteoarthritis of the knee since 1997.

Who is considered to be a good candidate for Visco-Supplementation?

Candidates for visco-supplementation include:

  • Individuals who have chronic, persistent knee pain despite trials of conservative treatment including: physical therapy, cortisone injections, activity modification, weight loss, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, Tylenol, and braces.
  • Individuals who cannot take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, have a history of gastric ulcers, or are taking blood thinning agents.
  • Individuals for whom surgery is not an option or for those who would like to delay surgery.

Candidates that should avoid visco-supplementation include:

  • Individuals allergic to bird products such as feathers, eggs, and poultry.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The safety and effectiveness of this treatment has not been shown in pregnant or nursing women.

How is the procedure done?

The procedure is a series of simple injections, performed in the office under sterile conditions. Each treatment should only take a few minutes. These injections will occur once a week for 3-5 weeks, depending on which product was chosen for you.

Will I have any restrictions following the procedure?

It is recommended to avoid any strenuous or prolonged weight-bearing activity for the first days following each injection. You will be able to return to work and normal daily activities immediately following the procedure. You should ice frequently in 20 minute intervals if you experience any discomfort.

How long will it take before I see Results?

You may start feeling results following the first injection, but often times, improvements are gradual. Most individuals begin to feel the benefits after the third injection.

How long will it last?

Treatments results typically last from 6 months to a year, but it is possible to experience relief for up to 3 years. The treatment can be repeated every 6 months and as many times as needed.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects may include pain, swelling, heat, rash, itching, bruising, and/or redness. These reactions are generally mild and do not last long. These side effects generally occur in 3-5% of injections and are considered self-limiting. Joint infection occurs 1 in 10,000. If these reactions do occur, you should call your healthcare provider.

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© 2017 Christopher S. Ahmad, MD

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