What Is Viscosupplementation And How Does It Work?

Viscosupplementation is a joint injection of a jelly-like material called hyaluronic acid, which is normally found in your joints but is reduced in patients who have osteoarthritis.  As joints become arthritic, the cartilage becomes damaged, and the space between the bones that the joint separates becomes reduced.  This causes increased friction and inflammation, resulting in pain and swelling of the joint.  Viscosupplementation acts to increase the space between the bones, and serves as a shock-absorber and lubricant for the joint. This will help to reduce pain and swelling in the arthritic joint.

What does Viscosupplementation treat?

Viscosupplementation can help treat several different pain conditions including:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Difficulty with ambulation
  • Sensation of instability of the joint

What To Expect From Viscosupplementation Treatment

Viscosupplementation joint injections are an outpatient procedure performed in the clinic setting. The procedure does not require anesthesia, and takes only a few minutes to perform. The jelly-like substance is injected into the joint using a small needle that will feel like a small “pinch” as the needle enters the skin.  Patients may experience some mild pressure as the joint fills with the fluid. Patients do not have any restrictions following the injections, and can engage in activity as tolerated immediately following the injection. Patients may experience some mild soreness at the injection site for 1-2 days following the procedure which is usually well-controlled with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medications. Viscosupplementation is often performed in a “series” of 3-6 injections per joint, to maximize the benefits of the medication.  Different patients will receive varying degrees of symptom relief, but most patients notice a reduction in both pain and swelling, and improvement in ambulation following viscosupplementation.

Side Effects of Viscosupplementation Treatment

Severe complications from viscosupplementation are extremely rare, and even mild side-effects are uncommon. Side-effects may be more common in patients on blood thinners, or with uncontrolled chronic medical conditions like diabetes. Rarely, patients may notice an initial increase in pain or swelling for several days following the injection, but this should subside. Other possible side-effects include bleeding, bleeding into the joint, infection, pain at the injection site, and possible allergic reaction to the components of the injection. Your provider will discuss these further and can answer any questions regarding side-effects.

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The Viscosupplementation Process

1

Schedule an Appointment

Give us a call to schedule your appointment at one of our locations. You can also fill out our online form, and we’ll reach out to finalize your appointment.

2

Initial Evaluation

During your appointment, we’ll take the time to review your medical history and learn about the treatments that were unsuccessful. This allows us to determine which injection is best suited for your needs.

3

Treatment

Viscosupplementation joint injections take less than 30 minutes to administer.

4

Short Recovery

Most patients can walk on their own immediately following treatment and are able to resume full activity shortly thereafter.

Testimonials

"Dr. Jarzembeck is AMAZING. I HIGHLY recommend her for anyone suffering in pain. She goes above and beyond to make sure her patients pain has been dealt with."

Genia G.

"Everyone is so friendly and helpful, Dr. Bednar came to me and explained the procedure and answered my questions. Highly recommend!"

Maggie G.

"Dr. Julia is the best! The staff is professional and friendly to all. Best of all, Dr. Julia is finding solutions for my chronic pain! Never thought that it would be possible. It's a journey for me, but it seems like there is a solution."

Nancy M.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is viscosupplementation covered by insurance?

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Yes. Most insurances cover viscosupplementation. A prior authorization will be obtained in advance if required. Our billing department is happy to address any questions or concerns regarding coverage.

Is viscosupplementation safe?

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Viscosupplementation is a very low risk procedure, with very few side effects. Our providers here at Greater Austin Pain Center are highly experienced, and take multiple safety precautions to minimize side effects, and if one does occur, it is usually minor in nature.  Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare, but, like with any medication, a possibility.

How many injections will I receive?

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Most patients will undergo 3-6 injections per joint, usually separated by 1-2 weeks, to complete a full course of viscosupplementation therapy.  This is done to maximize the benefits of viscosupplementation, while also minimizing the chance for pain and swelling if all the liquid was injected at once.  This series of viscosupplementation injections can be repeated if the symptoms return several months later.

Lunch & Learn With Our Doctors

Curious about Spinal Cord and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation? Join our doctors for an in-person lunch and learn session to find out more about these treatments and ask any questions you may have. This event will be 12–1pm, sign up below to receive more details and RSVP.

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Treat Chronic Pain with Viscosupplementation

If you need relief from pain caused by arthritis, schedule an appointment with the pain doctors at Greater Austin Pain Center to learn more about viscosupplementation. With locations in Austin, Kyle, and Dripping Springs, our pain management doctors are ready to help you find a solution to manage your pain.

Schedule an Appointment

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