Viscosupplements for OA of the Knee: May Provide the Relief to Keep you Going

January 24, 2017

Are you are suffering from knee osteoarthritis that is keeping you from participating in the activities you love?Lehman-Christie2-1.png  Are you looking for non-surgical options for treatment?   Dr. Lehman is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician who specializes in non-surgical treatment for knee pain.  If bracing, therapy and medication aren’t working, consider viscosupplement injections.

What is Viscosupplementation?

Viscosupplementation is a procedure used mainly for patients who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee.  Osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease) is mechanical wear of cartilage and bone within a joint and often limits patients’ abilities to remain active.  Dr. Lehman tries to Keep People Active, and any procedure that helps her patients maintain their level of physical function is a great tool in her belt. 

Viscosupplementation (also known as hyaluronic acid injections or hyaluronan injections) involves injecting a lubricating fluid into a joint (most commonly in the knee, which is the only joint that has historically been covered by insurance, but it can be helpful in other joints as well).  Hyaluronic acid is an important component of the joint fluid in healthy joints and is found in lower concentrations in osteoarthritic joints. 

Dr. Lehman recommends that her patients receive a series of three injections over the course of three weeks (one injection per week).  As always, she recommends patients wear athletic clothing to the appointment (shorts are particularly ideal).  Dr. Lehman will perform the injection under ultrasound guidance to make sure that the hyaluronan is accurately placed into the joint space.  The guidance also allows for less procedural discomfort.  There is a chance that patients will start feeling benefit after the first injection, but typically, maximum benefit is gained after all three injections have been completed. 

Doctors’ recommendations post-injection:

  1. Ice the injection site if patient is feeling any local tenderness
  2. Continue any mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise routine
  3. Avoid any High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), weight training or resistance training for the first 48 hours after the injection
  4. Call the office with any other questions/concerns that may arise

The benefits of viscosupplement injections can be felt for between several months and a year, but of course, these numbers vary greatly between patients.  It is possible for the series of injections to be repeated; usually Dr. Lehman and insurance companies require at least 3-6 months between the first series and the second.   Additionally, it is important to understand that viscosupplement injections are not substitute for total joint replacement surgery if a patient’s osteoarthritis is severe. 

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis that is keeping you from participating in the activities you love, we recommend you call our office and set up a consultation to evaluate your knee and consider all non-surgical options.

Dr. Christie Lehman, MD
18 Medical Park Dr
Asheville, NC 28803





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