Take heart, because there are still some minimally invasive treatment avenues open to you. One of these is an injection called viscosupplementation.
Viscosupplementation—also known as hyaluronic acid injections or hyaluronan injections—involves injecting a lubricating fluid called hyaluronic acid into the knee. Hyaluronic acid is already present in the joint fluid in healthy knees, but it’s found in lower concentrations in joints affected by osteoarthritis.
How viscosupplementation helps the knee
The goal of viscosupplementation is to:
- Reduce pain
- Reduce stiffness
- Improve range of motion
Additionally, the pain relief of viscosupplementation may make it easier to pursue a rehabilitation program of gentle, progressive knee exercises—exercises that may have been too painful to do pre-injection.
Injections like viscosupplementation may provide temporary relief, but knee rehabilitation and exercise is recommended to reduce pain over the long term. These measures can improve knee function and muscle strength to support the knee.
Who is a good candidate for viscosupplementation?
Viscosupplementation has the potential to provide pain relief and improved function for several weeks or even months. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and its effectiveness may wear off through repeated injections.
Based on studies and clinical experience, doctors recommend viscosupplementation for patients who:
- Experience daily pain from basic activities like standing or walking
- Have not had good results from NSAID pain-relievers, or are unable to take them because of sensitivities
- Have tried joint aspirations without good results
- Want to avoid or postpone a knee replacement or another knee surgery
If you feel you may be a good candidate for viscosupplementation treatment, make an appointment to discuss it with your doctor.