Wellness & Education

Not Ready for a Knee Replacement? Try this…

Not everyone who needs a knee replacement is ready to get one. Sometimes patients need to lose weight. Sometimes they are too busy with life to take the time for surgery. Whatever the reason, when knee replacement surgery has to be delayed, patients need something to help with pain until surgery can be done. In many cases, “that something” is viscosupplementation.

Normal knee joints have sacs of a thick, slippery, fluid between the bone. This fluid helps cushion the joint and allow the bones in the knee to slide over one another more easily. When patients have osteoarthritis, this fluid may be thinner and some of it may be missing. When this happens, the bones rub over one another and cause pain.  

With viscosupplementation, healthcare providers inject hyaluronic acid into the sack in the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is the building block of the same fluid that is naturally in the knee. By adding more fluid, providers are able to help the knee move more easily and with less pain. 80% of viscosupplementation patients receive 7 months of decreased knee pain.  

Hyaluronic acid injections are not one of the first treatments for osteoarthritis. However, in many cases they help patients who are not yet ready for joint replacement surgery. If injections are given every six months, they can delay knee replacement surgery for an average of 3 and a half years. 

 Viscosupplementation can also help some patients who, for whatever reason, cannot take some of the medications that are normally used to manage osteoarthritis.