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What to Ask About Knee Osteoarthritis

What is viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid?

Viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid is a treatment for symptoms of osteoarthritis. Natural hyaluronic acid helps lubricate and cushion joints. People with osteoarthritis have less hyaluronic acid in their joint fluid than normal. Viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid involves injecting synthetic joint lubricant into the affected joint. This can help reduce inflammation and pain in joints, such as the knee, hip, shoulder and wrist.

Viscosupplementation does not cure osteoarthritis but can reduce symptoms, including inflammation and pain. Viscosupplementation may also signal the body to produce more of its own natural hyaluronic acid. Viscosupplementation is only one method used to treat osteoarthritis. Discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you.  

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor will likely recommend one or more complementary treatments or lifestyle modifications along with viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid. These can include physical therapy, exercise, or assistive devices such as braces or canes. Recommendations will vary depending on the extent of your joint’s deterioration, your age, your symptoms, and other factors. 

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 7, 2013

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Medical References

Arthritis of the Knee. American Academy for Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00212. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Intra-articular Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis. American Family Physician. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0801/p565.html. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Osteoarthritis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Osteoarthritis/. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Therapeutic trajectory of hyaluronic acid versus corticosteroids in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arthritis and Rheumatism. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19950318. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Viscosupplementation. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/viscosupplementation/hic_viscosupplementation.aspx. Accessed September 1, 2013.
Viscosupplementation in the hip: evaluation of hyaluronic acid formulations. Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2228384/. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Viscosupplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22868835. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Viscosupplementation Treatment for Arthritis. American Academy for Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00217. Accessed July 31, 2013.

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