Viscosupplementation: Boon or Con?
Viscosupplementation (VS) is injection of a lubricating fluid inside the knee joint to restore lubrication of damaged cartilage and improve pain and mobility. The commonly used fluid is Hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan present in joint fluid and several tissues in the human body and is known to increase the viscosity of the fluid.
Hyaluronic acid has been approved by FDA for use in mild to moderate osteoarthritis as a single use injection, which can be repeated every 6 months if needed. Hyaluronic acid does not reverse the arthritic process but is supposed to give symptomatic relief.
What does the research say?
Several reports including good quality meta analysis have now shown that Viscosupplementation is not effective in relieving pain or improving function in knee arthritis.
It has also been reported to have complications and side effects.
Strong evidence suggests steroids work better than VS in the short term at relieving symptoms but both are ineffective in the long term.
Some individuals do benefit from VS injections but overall evidence does not support its widespread use in osteoarthritis of the knee.
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