Viscosupplementation is a medical procedure during which lubricating fluid is injected into a joint.

Also called hyaluronic acid injections or hyaluronan injections, viscosupplementation is most commonly used to treat symptoms of symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance present in the synovial fluid of your joints. In your knees, synovial fluid, a thick gel-like liquid, helps cushion your joint and absorb the shock of walking, running, twisting, and turning.

People with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee have lower levels of hyaluronic acid in their synovial fluid. Therefore, their joints are less “greased” and less able to protect the bones and cartilage from damage and destruction.

Viscosupplementation Diagram

Viscosupplementation Treatment

In its early stages, arthritis of the knee is treated with nonsurgical methods. Your doctor may recommend a range of treatments, including:

  • Changes in activity level
  • Weight loss
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections

Side Effects of Viscosupplements

Typical side effects of viscosupplement injections are mild — redness, swelling, skin irritation at the injection site — but serious side effects are possible. Contact your doctor’s office immediately if you begin experiencing any of the following side effects:

  • Closing of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face

You may be having a more serious reaction to the injection and need medical attention. Talk with your doctor about your allergies and how this might affect your use of viscosupplements.

Need Help Affording Medications?

Patients who are having difficulty paying for their medications, and who have federally funded Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or commercial insurance, may qualify for additional support from the following foundations below: