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 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.
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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
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.
The Viscosupplementation Process
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.
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.
Viscosupplementation joint injections take less than 30 minutes to administer.
Most patients can walk on their own immediately following treatment and are able to resume full activity shortly thereafter.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
Everyone is so friendly and helpful, Dr: Bednar came to me and explained the procedure and answered my questions. Highly recommend!
The visit was all positive. The staff was friendly and helpful and the wait was minimal. They made every effort to make sure I was informed and comfortable. I am very happy with the procedure and the care I received.