What Are Viscosupplements Used For?

Here at the Pain Relief Institute, we take pride in offering our Chicago area patients non-surgical pain management options that embody the principles of regenerative medicine.  Zilretta (slow-release non-opioid medication that relieves knee pain for up to three months), stem cell recruitment and PalinGen® are among the most effective for relieving joint pain. Stem cell recruitment uses stem cell amniotic fluid injection to promote health new tissue growth in damaged areas, and PalinGen® provides nutrients, cytokines, and growth factors as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and regenerative properties. But every patient is different with unique pain therapy needs. Thus we are expert at providing other forms of pain therapy as well, and one of these takes the form of viscosupplements.

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Viscosupplements: The Basics

Viscosupplements are among the newest treatment options for those suffering from chronic or severe osteoarthritic knee pain and offer good knee pain treatment options for Chicago residents. Viscosupplements have been shown to be beneficial for reducing inflammation and pain caused by osteoarthritis. Viscosupplements improve mobility, strengthen the affected joint, and reduce pain while also stimulating the growth of new cells and healthier tissue. Viscosupplements can be injected into one or multiple joints, for example, both knees at the same time.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common type of arthritis pain, and the knee is one of the first joints to begin to wear out. The pain and loss of mobility caused by this knee condition is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. It develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time. Surgery can help advanced cases, but when the condition has been caught early enough, injections of viscosupplements can help restore use and reduce pain so the individual can get back to living his or her life.

Your doctor may recommend other steps be taken in addition to getting injections of viscosupplements in order to maximize their effectiveness and to give you the best results possible when receiving your chosen knee therapy. These common steps include:

  • Changes in activity level:: more active to reduce stiffness and increase core body strength or less active to avoid further injuries
  • Weight loss: carrying too much weight puts a lot of stress on the body, and losing just 10-20 pounds can be a huge help
  • Pain relievers: usually over the counter pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds are tried before high-dose prescriptions are brought to bear
  • Physical therapy: building strength and mobility can go a long way in reducing pain as will knowing how to move and sit properly
  • Corticosteroid injections: these injections are highly targeted and work to relieve pain long enough for other treatments to start working
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What Are The 3 Injections Used?

There are three types of injections we use here at the Pain Relief Institute for our knee pain patients. They are:

Hyaluronic acid supplements – Although not technically medications, these are an artificial means of restoring the natural balance of this important acid within the body. The injections are given regularly for a set period of time that will vary depending n the individual case, but a common treatment schedule is 1-2 times a week for 4-6 weeks.

The procedure is simple and quick and needs only localized numbing. A small amount of fluid is removed from the joint to make room for the injection to avoid any unnecessary pressure or pain in the joint. Most of our patients see results within the first 2 injections, and progress continues until treatment is completed.

Corticosteroid Injections – In cases of severe pain, it is an option to inject corticosteroids directly into the knee joint. This is most commonly done in order to get quick relief of pain and inflammation. The benefits may last anywhere from a few days to more than six months depending on the injury, the location, how the injections are given, and other factors.

While the injections bring targeted relief to the joint and lack many of the side effects of oral corticosteroid medications, they are not without risks. Prolonged use of these steroid injections in the same joint for an extended period of time can lead to cartilage breakdown, system tolerance, and other side effects as well. If you have used these in the past for relief but find they are no longer working, we here at the Pain Relief Institute can help you find other treatment options that can bring you the relief you want and need.

Arthrocentesis – Also known to many as joint fluid aspiration, arthrocentesis is the term used to describe the process of removing joint fluid through a minimally invasive procedure that is basically a reverse injection. A needle is inserted into the joint, and the fluid is removed. Although removing joint fluid from the knee is often done so it can be tested to determine the bet course of treatment for the condition, it is also helpful for bringing temporary relief for joint pain.

Too much fluid can lead to pain and stiffness, and when the fluid causing the pain is infected, that can also lead to pain. Thus removing some of it will reduce the symptoms and bring at least some temporary relief. Once the fluid has been tested, the right diagnosis of the cause of the pain can be determined, and another form of treatment can then begin to produce pain relief on a more long-term basis.

Side Effects – Injections of viscosupplements are very safe compared to other medications and surgical treatments commonly used for knee pain in Chicago and the surrounding areas. Most side effects are very minor and short-lived, the most common being some tenderness, bruising, minor swelling, and skin irritation. Most of these disappear within a few hours to a day or two.

In rare cases, there may be an allergic reaction where the body rejects the introduced material. Infection and bleeding are also very rare complications of this procedure.

Our team here at the Pain Relief Institute will go over all possible risks and concerns with you and ensure you have all your questions answered well before your treatments begin. We will also work with you closely during the treatments and in the days and weeks following to ensure there are no adverse side effects or other concerns.