When Is Viscosupplementation Right for Knee Pain?

When Is Viscosupplementation Right for Knee Pain?

Knee pain is a common ailment, especially as you get older. It can make walking, climbing stairs, and even getting out of bed difficult. It’s important to seek treatment when your knee pain doesn’t go away on its own, as it could be a sign of osteoarthritis. In this case, you may need viscosupplementation to help you get rid of your pain.

At Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, our team is ready to help you finally tackle your chronic knee pain. Leading our team is Dr. Kenneth Varley, a respected pain management specialist who offers a number of treatments for different conditions, including knee osteoarthritis.

Causes of knee pain

Your knees are a vital component of your body; they allow you to stand and walk, among other activities. However, because of this, your knees are at risk for wear-and-tear and injuries. They support most of your weight throughout the day, making them susceptible to conditions like:

  1. Arthritis
  2. Tendonitis
  3. Torn cartilage
  4. Sprained ligaments
  5. Fractures

Knee pain can be severe or mild, and it may be constant or come and go. It can arise due to aging or from an acute injury to the tissues within your knee joint. 

Because your knees are so important to your everyday activities, it’s important to take any kind of pain in your joints seriously. If left untreated, knee pain sometimes leads to more damage in your joints and even to disability.

What is viscosupplementation?

Viscosupplementation is a type of injection that contains hyaluronic acid. This substance has a thick, gel-like consistency, and it’s found within the joints of your body in the synovial fluid, which helps lubricate your joints. It also acts as a shock-absorber and allows the bones to move fluidly, without causing pain.

As you get older, your body begins producing less hyaluronic acid, making your joints susceptible to osteoarthritis. In this condition, the lining in your joints wears down, which leads to the bones rubbing together and causing pain.

Viscosupplementation can replace the hyaluronic acid within your joint. The injection provides cushioning when your body is short on the substance, offering relief from pain.

Patients generally receive three to five viscosupplementation injections in the affected knee, with the injections about a week apart from each other. The relief isn’t always instantaneous; sometimes it takes 12 weeks to feel the full effect of the injections.

Is viscosupplementation right for you?

Minimally invasive viscosupplementation isn’t usually the first method of treatment. When you first come in to see Dr. Varley for your knee pain, he performs a physical exam and asks you about your symptoms. 

Unless the pain is severe and causing significant problems with your life, Dr. Varley begins treatment with more conservative, noninvasive treatments. These include physical therapy, pain medications, and rest. 

However, if you’ve tried several conservative measures without significant relief, viscosupplementation could be a good option for you. Because this treatment involves an injection in your knee, we usually turn to it after other conservative treatments are exhausted.

Viscosupplementation is especially helpful if you have swelling or stiffness in your knee due to osteoarthritis. It has the ability to provide cushioning and relief of bone-on-bone pain from arthritis.