What is viscosupplementation?
- A treatment of osteoarthritis that involves a single/series of injections comprised of highly concentrated hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance secreted by the lining of your joint which acts as a lubricant and shock absorber during activities of daily living.
What are other names for viscosupplementation:
- Common brand names include: Monovisc®, Orthovisc®, Durolane®, Synvisc®
- Each product has different concentrations of hyaluronic acid. Some are single injections vs serial injections. Please discuss with your doctor about deciding which product is best for you.
What is the science behind viscosupplementation?
- In osteoarthritis, joint cartilage degenerates and the composition of the synovial fluid changes with decreased concentration of hyaluronic acid by 33-50%.
- Viscosupplementation helps reestablish the normal concentration of hyaluronic acid within your joint, restoring the shock absorbing and lubricating properties of the knee.
- It is also believed viscosupplementation has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) effect.
How will this help with my arthritis pain?
- The goal of this viscosupplementation is to help restore the mechanical and biomechanical function of the knee helping with the symptoms of pain, stiffness, and swelling seen in arthritis.
Does every patient get significant improvements after viscosupplementation treatment?
- No therapy is universally successful and each patient has varying degrees of improvement. It is possible you may be a patient that does not experience significant improvements after your injection.
When do the injections start to work?
- Most patients begin to notice a difference a few weeks after your single injection or after your final injection of the series.
Who is the ideal candidate for viscosupplementation?
- Those patients who have had failure of other non-operative treatments or are unable to tolerate other treatments.
- Those patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis, minimal alignment changes, and mild to moderate pain and stiffness in their joint.
What are the risks for the injections?
- Complications are rare but mild adverse affects have been reported occurring in 3-20% of individuals.
- The most common complication is an inflammatory reaction at the injection site causing localized pain and knee swelling. These symptoms are usually mild and self-limited resolving without intervention within 1 to 3 days.
- There is always a very small risk of infection with any injection. Please call Central Alberta Orthopedics or the Orthopedic Surgeon on call as soon as possible if you experience signs and symptoms of infection (fever >38.5 degrees Celsius, spreading redness around injection site, pus draining from injection site).
Is there a cost associated with viscosupplementation?
- Yes, injections are currently an uninsured service.
- Currently viscosupplimentation ranges from $250-450 depending on the brand you choose.
How does a patient get referred for viscosupplementation?
- If you are unsure whether or not you are a good candidate for viscosupplementation, your doctor will refer you to Central Alberta Orthopedics to be assessed by an Orthopedic Surgeon or Musculoskeletal physician. Have them indicate on the referral you are interested in viscosupplementation.
Do private insurance companies cover the cost of viscosupplementation?
- Every insurance company is different; please check with your provider.
- Central Alberta Orthopedics can, upon request, provide a free letter of support you can send to your insurance company.