Viscosupplement Injections Can Ease Knee Pain and Other Arthritis Symptoms
Viscosupplement injections can increase the amount of natural lubricant (synovial fluid) in the knee joint. The key ingredient in viscosupplements is hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in synovial fluid. Because the hyaluronic acid used in this FDA-approved treatment is sometimes extracted from the cartilage of rooster combs, viscosupplementation is often referred to as “rooster comb” injections.
Hyaluronic acid is a highly viscous substance that reduces friction in the knee joint, allowing the cartilage surfaces of the bones to slide freely against each other. Over time, the amount of synovial fluid produced by the body often decreases, leading to knee pain and other symptoms.
What happens when the knee joint loses synovial fluid?
Without sufficient lubrication, the articular cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones in the knee joint may begin to develop small cracks. Synovial fluid can potentially seep into and widen these cracks. As cartilage damage progresses, bone-on-bone contact may occur, leading to the development of osteoarthritis of the knee. In addition to knee pain, some common symptoms of knee arthritis include:
- A grinding sensation during movement
- Joint locking
- Difficulty walking
What are the potential benefits of viscosupplement injections?
When injected directly in the joint capsule of an arthritic knee, hyaluronic acid can potentially enhance the lubricating ability of the synovial fluid, coat the nerve endings in the joint, and reduce inflammation. All of these effects can help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.
While viscosupplement injections can provide relief that lasts up to several months, the resulting benefits may be temporary. Therefore, this treatment is not intended to be a long-term solution. Rather, it is better suited for managing painful flare-ups.
If you’re interested in learning more about viscosupplement injections, you can consult with Peter, D. Vizzi, MD, in Lafayette, LA. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and avid athlete, Dr. Vizzi provides his patients with the benefit of his extensive expertise. He offers a full range of treatment options for osteoarthritis of the knee, and he is committed to helping each patient find the most conservative approach that will provide effective relief.