No one enjoys knee pain and osteoarthritis is no exception. When your knee isn’t responding to more conservative treatments, you might think surgery is your only option. However, you might be able to avoid knee surgery with viscosupplementation.
It’s always a good idea to look at alternatives to managing your osteoarthritis knee pain over surgery. Viscosupplementation not only reduces pain and lubricates joints, but it may even slow the progress of your arthritis.
Instead of living your life in pain, it’s worth at least considering these injections to save your knee from further damage.
Viscosupplementation is also called hyaluronic acid injections or hyaluronan injections. The procedure injects a thick gel containing a protein, either hyaluronic acid or hyaluronan, to reduce inflammation in the knee and provide the lubrication your knee is missing.
Think of the injection as a supplement that gives your knee what osteoarthritis is trying to take away. In fact, the viscosupplementation injection is designed specifically to supplement the fluid already in your joint. The injection thickens this fluid, giving you more lubrication and less overall pain.
A study published in 2015 found that there is significant evidence that you can avoid knee surgery with viscosupplementation. The study looked at 182,022 patients that had total knee replacement surgery.
Patients who had hyaluronic acid injections after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee were able to delay knee surgery. In fact, those without any injections had to have knee surgery within 114 days after their diagnosis. Patients who had one hyaluronic acid injection were able to delay surgery by 1.4 years. Those who had five or more injections over time delayed surgery by an average of 3.6 years.
At Integrated Pain Consultants, we suggest the earlier you start injections after your diagnosis, the more effective your treatment may be. In fact, you may avoid knee surgery completely. As the study shows, you will need to have on-going injections to reduce the likelihood of knee surgery in the future.
Sadly, osteoarthritis has been on the rise recently. However, this doesn’t mean your future is grim. Instead, look into alternative options over surgery. By starting early, you could avoid knee surgery with viscosupplementation.
Surgery might seem like a more straightforward and long-lasting option. However, there are risks involved. In addition to the standard risks that come from any major surgery, such as infection and complications with anesthesia, you also run the risk of stiffness and even loss of motion.
There are also risks with the knee replacement itself. Even though the painful joint has been replaced, the prosthetic might not align properly, making it difficult to bend your knee. Of course, the components themselves can break down as well.
Not only is viscosupplementation a much less invasive procedure, but the recovery time is much faster. Usually, you only need to rest for a day after the injection to give your knee pain time to lessen and reduce the chance of the gel flushing from the joint.
You can still do light activity after an injection. However, try to avoid heavy lifting, running or any strenuous activity that involves your knee.
The procedure doesn’t take long. We’ll sterilize the area and use lidocaine to numb the injection site. We’ll then use a live ultrasound to inject a syringe of viscosupplementation directly into the joint.
Dr. Seth and our other providers will discuss how often you’ll need injections and how long they should last. Ideally, these injections should help prevent further deterioration.
Don’t suffer or stop doing the things you love due to knee pain caused by arthritis just because you fear knee surgery. Instead, try a better alternative with viscosupplementation. Contact Integrated Pain Consultants (480) 626-2552 today to schedule a consultation to discuss your options.