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Viscosupplementation – Another Treatment for OA

Osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and juvenile arthritis (JA) are the three most common forms of arthritis. RA and JA are actually auto-immune diseases, but OA is a wear-and-tear condition. It is a symptom of joint degeneration.

In a healthy joint, cartilage cushions the bones and a thick substance called synovial fluid provides lubrication and acts as a shock absorber. In a degenerative joint, cartilage wears out and synovial fluid breaks down. When this happens, the bones in the joint rub together, causing arthritis pain.

Treatments for OA

Many OA sufferers take NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for the arthritis pain. But NSAIDs do nothing to stop the joint degeneration, and some people can’t take NSAIDs at all because they can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems.

Steroid injections are also a mainstay for treating OA. Although steroid injections may help on a short-term basis, ultimately, they damage the joint. See our previous blog: Steroid Injections: Dangers and Side Effects of Cortisone Shots

Another treatment for OA is viscosupplementation—the injection of hyaluronic acid, which is the substance that breaks down in the synovial fluid in a joint. Patients usually get one injection per week for three to five weeks.

Unlike treatments that only mask the pain, research hints that viscosupplementation may do more than simply re-lubricate a joint. Research suggests that hyaluronic acid can decrease inflammation in the joint, thus reducing joint damage.

The peak pain-relief achieved through viscosupplementation lasts about three months. But UCLA rheumatologist Roy D. Altman, MD reports that for about 30 percent of people who undergo injections, they are pain free for up to two years. He also reports that about 20 percent of patients receive no benefit from the injections. Doctors cannot yet predict how a patient will respond to the injections.

Is Viscosupplementation Safe?

The FDA approved the hyaluronic acid injections in the U.S. in 1997, but doctors overseas have been using these injections since 1987. Injections for arthritis in the knee are the most common, but some doctors also give injections in the hip and ankle joints.

Find Out More

Click this link to learn more about our Viscosupplementation Therapy in Nashville and possible outcomes of the procedure.

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