Visco-supplementation for arthritis of the knee is a procedure that involves the use of a lubricating fluid being injected into the knee joint. Also referred to as hyaluronic acid injection, this procedure is commonly performed on patients who are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Hyaluronic acid is a type of fluid that is commonly found in healthy joints. However for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, this fluid is low in supply. This procedure helps to add that fluid to the knee, helping to improve knee mobility and functionality, relieve pain, and possibly minimize the spread of the osteoarthritis. This procedure is done for patients who have failed to respond to other forms of medication for their knee osteoarthritis.
Patients are usually encouraged to participate in rehabilitation programs that include knee exercise, which is designed to help improve knee strength, functionality, and mobility.
The procedure requires a minute quantity of hyaluronic acid which is then injected into the joint capsule. The hyaluronic acid that is injected into the knee is artificial in design and is supposed to provide temporary lubrication to the knee joint.
If the procedure is deemed a success for the patient, the patient can expect a period of pain relief that can last anywhere from 3 months to a year. The greatest amount of pain relief usually takes place within 5 to 13 weeks following the completion of this procedure. This procedure can be repeated more than once if the patient’s condition deems it necessary with a 3 month space required between the first round treatment and the second round. However, there is a chance even though the procedure can be repeated, the treatment may not no longer become effective due to the continued progression of the osteoarthritis.
The procedure from beginning to end usually takes up to 5 minutes to complete and is done in a office setting. The patient is directed to lie directly on the back with the knee either kept straight or slightly bent. The knee will be sterilized using iodine or alcohol. It is important that at this phase of the procedure, the patient relaxes the leg muscle to help facilitate the injection and make it a less painful process. The procedure may or may not require the use of an ultrasound, but in the event that one is used, the skin surface close to the site of the injection is administered some gel, allowing the ultrasound to be placed on the skin and the imagery of the joint displayed on the screen. Before the syringe with the acid is injected into the skin, the skin surface is numbed with the application of a local anesthetic, Once that is done, the syringe with the acid is injected into the kneecap and once the injection is complete, the syringe is withdrawn and a bandage applied to the site of the injection.
Should the procedure be successful, the patient will be instructed to participate in physical therapy to help rehabilitate the knee and the surround muscles and to engage some form of exercise to help strengthen the knee muscles.