What is Viscosupplementation?
Viscosupplementation refers to the injection of a hyaluronan preparation into the joint. These are often called “gel shots”, because they appear as a clear gel. Hyaluronan is a natural substance present in the joint fluid that assists in lubrication. It allows the smooth movement of the cartilage-covered articulating surfaces of the joint.
Indications of Viscosupplementation
It is indicated in the management of knee osteoarthritis that has not responded to non-surgical treatment options such as pain medications, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. It is not FDA approved for any other joint besides the knee at this time.
Gel shots provide symptomatic relief and delays the need for surgery. It is injected directly into the joint to replenish the diminished synovial fluid, thereby enhancing its lubricating properties.
How does Viscosupplementation Work?
The gel injection not only supplements the hyaluronan in the joint but also stimulates the production of hyaluronan in the treated knee. This provides gradual symptomatic relief over the course of the injections. It can take 4-5 weeks to take full effect. This effect may last for several months.
Post-procedural Care Following Viscosupplementation
Ice packs and an analgesic may be used, if required, to ease any discomfort experienced after the injection. Any strenuous activity such as jogging or sports should be completely avoided for 48 hours to a week after the injection and should be resumed only after consultation with your doctor.
Risks and Complications of Viscosupplementation
You may experience mild pain, swelling, warmth, and redness at the injection site for up to 48 hours following a Synvisc injection. Headache and joint stiffness may also occur in some cases.
Immediately consult your doctor if you develop fever, or the pain and swelling fail to resolve after 48 hours following the injection.