You’ve seen the commercial, right? You know, the one about the little gel
If arthritic knees are causing creaking,
insoles that “jump” into your shoes and immediately improve your disposition?
Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if there was some kind of “gel” that could be put into a creaky, painful, old arthritic knee that could help with the pain like that?
To an extent, there is. It’s been on the market for some time and it can have some pretty dramatic effects.
So, what’s it called?
The therapeutic process of injecting this substance into the knee is termed viscosupplementation.
These injections come by many brand names such as Synvisc, Synvisc-One, Hyalgan, and Supartz to name a few of the more readily known products in this country.
The actual chemical name for the inject able substance is hyaluronic acid, which has been shown to be naturally occurring component found in synovial (joint) fluid.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), people who suffer from osteoarthritis typically have a lower-than-normal concentration of this component in their joint fluid, thus contributing to inadequate lubrication of increasingly brittle joint cartilage cells. Viscosupplementation with one of the many products available today has proven to be a significant treatment option for those where anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy no longer provide adequate benefit.
The gel substance can either be manufactured synthetically, or from rooster “combs” (those floppy pieces of tissue). I mention this because there can be a real, although rare, potential for allergic reactions to the biologically manufactured variety, and if you pursue investigating this as an option, it should be discussed with your doctor.
The number of injections required can vary from product to product, and can range from one injection per week for up to five weeks to one injection and you’re done. No one knows yet which is the best, and all seem to work to various degrees of success.
Am I a candidate for these injections?
If you have been diagnosed with arthritis of the knee, you may well be a candidate for these injections. Discussion with your doctor or orthopedic surgeon will help establish a plan of treatment based on the extent and severity of the arthritis and what the short and long-term treatment goals are. The truth is; drugs, surgery and therapy are not your only options and “gel” injections can be a very real benefit to you.
Just what does it do, anyway?
When this material is injected into the knee joint, it helps lubricate the arthritic joint surfaces, reducing friction that can cause inflammation, pain, and mobility difficulties. It also acts as a “shock absorber” in the joint, which can help lessen the destructive loads on any remaining healthy cartilage cells. It has often been described by the manufacturers that these injections can also help to make the joint fluid more “slippery” and improve water retention in the cartilage cells, thus reducing cracking and flaking of the joint surface.
One thing to keep in mind though, and having been a part of hundreds of these injections, is that the more severe the arthritis and joint damage, the less these injections seem to work. Ideally, those with milder forms of joint wear and tear benefit the most. Relief can last a few weeks to several months.
That being said, injections, as a treatment option, should never be carelessly ruled out and you as a consumer have the right (and personal responsibility) to avail yourself of all treatment options if they are appropriate to your condition.
Most insurance plans, as well as Medicare will cover the cost of the injections with proper pre-authorization, which your doctor’s office will help secure for you. Be sure to have this information before committing to any treatment so you know what, if any, responsibility you may have.
So, if those arthritic knees are creaking, snapping, aching and feeling “older than dirt,” you may be a good candidate for these injections.
Talk with your doctor or orthopedic surgeon and maybe you’ll be gel-in’.
Chisholm’s expertise in nursing, orthopedics and surgery spans more than 30 years. He holds multiple national certifications in these specialties. His goal is to empowering people through education and information to become more engaged, proactive and responsible in their orthopedic health, and health care. For additional information on orthopedic related topics, visit Ken’s Web site at www.bone-and-joint-pain.com.
If arthritic knees are causing creaking, snapping and aching, you may be a good candidate for viscosupplementation, which lubricates arthritic joint surfaces, reducing friction that can cause inflammation, pain, and mobility difficulties.