Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects a large part of the population, causing people pain and reduced mobility. It tends to build up as people grow older, often from normal wear and tear on the joints. Aside from the usual wear and tear that causes cartilage to break down, osteoarthritis can also be caused by obesity or injuries to the joints.
Cartilage is the tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, and it is slippery with synovial fluid, allowing bones to glide over each other. Osteoarthritis mostly affects cartilage. When someone suffers from osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage wears away, which causes bones under the cartilage to rub together. This rubbing motion can cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, loss of flexibility, and bone spurs.
Apart from joint replacement surgery, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, but a lot can be done to alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms associated with it.
Viscosupplementation is a proven treatment for osteoarthritis, which is the most common joint disease affecting older people. During this process doses of hyaluronic acid are given through injections into affected joints in the synovial fluid. A naturally occurring substance in the synovial fluid, the injected hyaluronic acid will help to lubricate the joint and reduce friction. The course of treatment can range from a single injection formulation to doses of three injections. Viscosupplementation helps in reducing pain and improving joint movements.
Factors driving the growth of viscosupplementation treatments are the increasing geriatric population, increasing demand for minimally invasive surgical procedures, and patient’s awareness about new drugs and devices for the treatment of conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Viscosupplementation is a cost-effective procedure for patients. Better patient compliance and reduction in the number of hospital visits is expected to increase the demand of three injection viscosupplementation treatments. While viscosupplementation injections may not help to regrow or repair cartilage, it does create more cushioning that will reduce pain and inflammation. While pain relief may not be immediate and could take several weeks, there will be a decrease of friction and pain.
To learn more about viscosupplementation call Dr. Bill Hefley at (800) 336-2412 to request an appointment, or request one online.