In order to move properly, your joints have a substance known as synovial fluid. This thick substance has the consistency of a gel and helps absorb shocks from normal activity such as walking, running and turning. A part of this synovial fluid is hyaluronic acid. When the hyaluronic acid is not produced in adequate levels are at risk for joint damage as the synovial fluid is less able to provide lubrication. This is particularly an issue for individuals who have osteoarthritis. Joint viscosupplementation is the process of injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee in order to restore balance and movement in the joint.
In 1997, the FDA approved viscosupplementation as a treatment for osteoarthritis in the knee. There are multiple medications available for use in the process. While each of the medications functions differently, they all were created to allow osteoarthritis suffers decrease pain and increase mobility. Options for treatment include:
• Euflexxa – Euflexxa is administered as a weekly injection over the course of three weeks. Typically, the injections are effective for up to six months. Some side effects associated with taking Euflexxa include swelling, tenderness and skin irritation where the injection was given.
• Hyalgan – Hyalgan is administered as a weekly injection over the course of five weeks. Commonly reported side effects include itching, swelling and bruising at the site of the injection.
• Orthovisc – This medication differs as it is made from bacteria. It provides an option for individuals who are allergic to chicken, which is used in the creation of many of the other medications. The medication may be administered in three or four doses based on medical need. Side effects include the buildup of fluid, swelling and bruising.
• Synvisc-One – The only option available as a single dose, this product can provide up to six months pain management. Commonly reported side effects include pain and stiffness in the knee.
• Synvisc – Synvisc uses three injections and can last up to six months. Swelling and pain around the knee are the most common side effects.