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Hyaluronate intraarticular injections

Hyaluronate intraarticular injections are a treatment option for osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away. In a normal joint, articular cartilage allows for smooth movement within the joint, whereas in arthritic knee the cartilage itself becomes thinner or completely absent. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally present in the joints. It works by acting as a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints, helping the knee to move smoothly.  In people with osteoarthritis, the level of hyaluronic acid within the joint fluid decreases.  As a result the lubricating effect of hyaluronic acid reduces causing rubbing of the cartilage within the joint. Finally, the cartilagemaywearaway entirely, and the bone ends will rub against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness, and restricted range of motion in the joint.

Hyaluronate injections are approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in those patients who have not responded to other treatments such as pain medications, physical therapy, topical therapies, or corticosteroid injections.  The procedure of injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee joint called viscosupplementation offers a new way of relieving pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis. It can help reduce pain and improve the function of the joint over a period of time as hyaluronic acid has anti-inflammatory and analgesic property. Viscosupplementation is effective in patients who have mild to moderate osteoarthritis and it stimulates production of body’s own hyaluronic acid.

The procedure involves injection of  the preparation of hyaluronic acid into the knee joint with a needle. During the procedure if you have any swelling or effusion in the knee, your doctor may withdraw excess fluid from your joint using a needle before injecting the hyaluronic acid. A total of 3 to 5 shots may be given spread over several weeks depending on the product used.

The most common side effects or reactions associated with the viscosupplementation injections are pain, swelling, and warmth at the injection site. These reactions usually do not stay for a long time. You can apply ice pack to relieve these problems. You should avoid any strenuous activities or prolonged weight-bearing activities (prolonged standing, jogging, or heavy lifting) for 48 hours following the injection.

Viscosupplementation include anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. In addition, these injections stimulate the body to produce more hyaluronic acid. The results might persist for several months.

Viscosupplementation is an alternative treatment option for arthritic patients who do not respond well to conservative treatment or who want to delay surgery. You may discuss this option with your orthopaedic surgeon.

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