Viscosupplementation is the injection of hyaluronic acid into the knee joint, in order to supplement the lubricating ability of the fluid within the knee. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring chemical in the fluid in joints that lubricates the joint and allows shock absorption. This treatment is only indicated for osteoarthritis in the knee. The intended outcome is improved function, decreased pain and slowed degeneration of the knee.
An alternative treatment includes injecting platelet-rich plasma to stimulate the regenerative and lubricating properties of the fluid within the joint. Since this is a relatively new technique, the demonstration of benefit has varied in different studies. Another alternative is the injection of steroids into the joint in order to decrease inflammation.
Inform your doctor if you are allergic to hyaluronic proteins. These proteins are also used in dermatologic injections.
The injection is performed in the office setting. It does not require sedation. Depending on provider preference, the patient is positioned either sitting or lying down. The knee joint is sanitized with a disinfectant solution to minimize the risk of infection. A small gauge needle is entered into the joint. The small gauge needle causes minimal pain on entry into the skin and joint. Once the needle is in the joint, the solution is injected. Ultrasound guidance may be used with this procedure.
Recovery from this procedure is immediate. Occasional side effects are stiffness, temporarily increased pain and difficulty moving. Less common side effects are rash, skin discoloration, numbness, itching or sensations of pressure. An infection rarely occurs, but if it does, it may be accompanied by fever and bleeding.