Viscosupplementation is a technique used to treat joints that have become damaged by osteoarthritis. During the viscosupplementation procedure, a substance called hyaluronic acid (also called hyaluronate and hyaluron) is injected into the joint space to act as a lubricant, reducing friction on the joint surfaces to relieve pain and inflammation while improving the way the joint works. When the treatment is used over time, viscosupplementation may help damaged joint surfaces heal, and injections can also help promote the body's natural production of hyaluronic acid for better joint function and a reduction in inflammation in pain in the future.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that occurs naturally in the body's joints, helping facilitate normal, pain-free function. As we age, hyaluronic acid production can decline, increasing the risk of arthritis and joint surface damage and resulting in pain, stiffness and limited range of motion in the joint.
Viscosupplementation is performed in the office as an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home immediately afterward. During treatment, injections are made directly into the joint to serve as a natural cushion and prevent friction, pain, and inflammation. Before injecting the solution, a small amount of joint fluid may need to be removed to “make room.” The entire procedure takes just a few minutes to perform, and while a single treatment can be effective, most patients achieve optimal benefits with three to five treatments.
Immediately after treatment, you may feel some discomfort at the injection site and within the joint, as well as mild swelling and stiffness. These effects resolve soon afterward. Although viscosupplementation is performed as an outpatient procedure, you may need to rest the joint following injection to enable it to recover as quickly as possible.
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