Hyaluronic Acid / ViscoSupplementation

What are hyaluronic acid injections?

Hyaluronic acid injections (also known as viscosupplements) might be the right treatment to help you with your osteoarthritis. Joints are like gears – they work best if they’re well lubricated. In a healthy joint, a thick substance called synovial fluid provides lubrication, allowing bones to glide against one another. Synovial fluid acts as a shock absorber, too. In people with osteoarthritis, a critical substance in synovial fluid known as hyaluronic acid breaks down. Loss of hyaluronic acid appears to contribute to joint pain and stiffness.

How do hyaluronic acid injections work?

They work by lubricating painful joints and promoting optimal function, especially for individuals who have not been able to achieve relief through other conservative measures. They also provide a natural anti-inflammatory effect, reducing pain and often avoiding the need for steroid injections. While studies of hyaluronic acid injections have occasionally yielded disappointing results, many doctors who treat osteoarthritis say that the weight of scientific evidence – and their own clinical experience – suggests that a shot in the knee can produce significant relief for some patients. Furthermore, lab and clinical research hints that hyaluronic acid may do much more than simply re-grease a creaky joint.

What conditions are treated with hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid injections are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating osteoarthritis of the knee, though some doctors have used the therapy on other joints, such as the hip and ankle.

Hyaluronic acid injections offer a safe, effective, and minimally-invasive way to manage osteoarthritis – but they aren’t right for every patient. They are ideal for men and women who have mild to moderate osteoarthritis (not severe) and have been unable to achieve relief with exercise, weight loss and physical therapy. They are also an appealing alternative if you want to avoid painkillers and steroid injections.

Are hyaluronic acid injections covered by insurance?

If medically necessary, Medicare and some insurance plans will cover the cost of these injections for osteoarthritis of the knee. However, it does not cover injections for other parts of the body.

How soon before I can get back to my normal routine after a hyaluronic acid injection?

Once your treatment is complete, you’ll be able to resume your normal daily routine right away. However, you should avoid prolonged standing, running, heavy lifting and other weight bearing activities for about two days. Most patients experience maximal relief around 4-6 weeks after completing the lubrication injections that typically maintain a benefit for approximately 6 months.

Are there any side effects to hyaluronic acid injections?

In terms of side effects, you can expect mild stiffness, very minor pain and a temporary buildup of joint fluid, but these effects should disappear fairly quickly. In the meantime, this can be managed by applying ice to the area and avoiding over activity.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact West Coast Orthopedics.

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