Viscosupplementation: An Arthritis Treatment

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“Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.”-Anne Wilson Schaef

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

What is viscosupplementation? 

Arthritis treatments are one of the most prevalent treatments that orthopaedic patients undergo every year. While treatment options are always unique to the patient, there is a method that can help to treat your arthritis. Viscosupplementation is an injectable therapy that is utilised in improving joint health. Via the injection of hyaluronic acid into the joint, it is possible to alleviate arthritis symptoms such as pain and inflammation. 

An arthritic joint has bones with a thin layer of cartilage on the ends. Cartilage provides lubrication to the joint, and the cartilage surface is coated with hyaluronic acid. With age and activity, there is often a degeneration of the cartilage layer, and this often results in the symptoms that patients often exhibit for the condition. Viscosupplementation aims to restore the joint’s integrity by restoring the presence of depleted hyaluronic acid. 

Treatment involves the application of an initial local anaesthetic, removal of any excess joint fluid, and then the injection of the hyaluronic acid. 

Treatment Conditions 

Health conditions are often classified according to a scale. Acute arthritis is often treated with medication and in some instances a steroid injection. More moderate to severe cases of arthritis are often treated with viscosupplementation. The procedure can be utilised as a complement to, or preventative treatment for surgery. 

Via a medical consultation, your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to determine if you will be an ideal candidate for osteoarthritis. 

What to expect during treatment 

Viscosupplementation is a method that has minor complications. The majority of patients often exhibit minimal side effects. After the treatment procedure, there will be some slight tenderness in the vicinity of the joint site. The body will also adjust to the new additive, so there may be some slight swelling and pain in the area of the joint. Other patient effects that are experienced include: 

*Bleeding 

*Adverse reactions to the hyaluronic acid. Sensitive patients can experience allergies to hyaluronic acid. 

With all treatments, it is a good idea to track your progress. It may take a few treatments of hyaluronic acid to experience any notable changes. Your doctor will be able to advise how your course of treatment will occur. 

With all treatments, it is always a good idea to be prepared for your therapy. Discuss with your doctors all your current treatments, so that no adverse reactions will occur during your viscosupplementation therapy. 

Post Treatment Care 

As a minor procedure, your daily routine will not be affected by viscosupplementation. You are able to go home after the procedure, and carry out activities such as driving. You may be mobile, but keep physical activity to a moderate pace in order to not affect the injected site. As the body adjusts to the hyaluronic acid injection, you can soothe the site with an ice pack if you experience any swelling or pain. With an appropriate treatment plan, this may be the path for treating your arthritis. 

Reference: 

Hopkins Medicine  

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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