Question: What is a hyaluronic acid injection (viscosupplementation) and how is it used to treat pain resulting from osteoarthritis?
Answer: Hyaluronic acid injection procedures are also known by the term viscosupplementation.
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that mostly affects the cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue that covers the ends of bones of a joint. When healthy, cartilage allows bones to glide over one another and provides a shock absorber function. The normal knee joint also contains a small amount of fluid called synovial fluid which is a thick gel-like substance that basically cushions the joint, and provides lubrication to reduce friction.
In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. Adding to the problem, the synovial fluid in your knees loses its ability to lubricate the joint. This combination of the deterioration of the cartilage along with the loss of lubrication from changes in the synovial fluid itself contributes to pain and stiffness, as well as limitation of joint movement, as well as swollen and some inflammation.
Hyaluronic acid injections are similar to substances that occur normally in your joint. They help joints to work properly by acting like lubricants or shock absorbers. The medication is injected into the knee by your doctor to relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis. Pharmaceutical companies in the United States have three hyaluronic acid-based products available. These are known by the brand names Hyalgan, Synvisc, and Supartz.