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Treating Joint Pain with Viscosupplementation


Viscosupplementation is a reliable treatment for many of the symptoms that occur with osteoarthritis. While it can’t cure this joint condition, it can reduce many of its symptoms, such as inflammation and pain. Viscosupplementation may also signal the body to produce more of its own natural hyaluronic acid, which acts as a joint lubricant. 

To find an effective treatment for your osteoarthritis in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Redwood City or throughout San Mateo County, rely on the orthopedic specialists at Dignity Health.

Why It is Performed

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that occurs when joint cartilage breaks down or becomes torn and thin. The synovial fluid loses its ability to lubricate the joint, which leads to friction inside the joint as bones rub against each other. With time, this can cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

Viscosupplementation is thought to restore joint lubrication, with additional research showing that it also reduces joint inflammation. Some people notice less pain after viscosupplementation, although not everyone finds relief.

What You Should Expect 

A doctor will begin by injecting synthetic hyaluronic acid into your arthritic joint. Knees are the most common joints for viscosupplementation, but it may also be used to treat symptoms in other joints, such as the hip, shoulder and wrist.

Viscosupplementation is typically an outpatient procedure, which will allow you to go home soon after the injection. You should, however, plan to take it easy the rest of the day. Some patients report tenderness and swelling near the injection site for the first two to three days after the procedure, although applying an ice pack can help ease this minor discomfort.

You will likely return to see your doctor the following week, as it can take up to five shots over several weeks, depending on the product your doctor uses.

How Your Everyday Life May Be Different

If viscosupplementation works for you, you will notice less pain and swelling in the affected joint just a few weeks after your treatment, with maximum relief occurring within about three months. Pain relief is generally temporary, lasting up to six months after the injections. Your doctor may recommend repeating the injections after six months if you found relief from your symptoms. 

Find the best way to treat your joint pain or learn more about viscosupplementation by using our Find a Doctor tool to locate an orthopedic specialist near you. 

Dignity Health offers many types of orthopedic treatments, including viscosupplementation, throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Redwood City.