Viscous injections, also called viscosupplementation, are a procedure where the body’s natural fluids are supplemented or treated with an injection. These injections contains hyaluronic acid, which is gel-like, and mimics natural fluids. The purpose of these injections is to treat and relieve joint pain, often cause by arthritis. Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, causes pain in joints like the knee, hip, and shoulder as a result of the break down over time of naturally occurring hyaluronic acid. Because of this reduced amount of hyaluronic acid in one’s joints, it becomes increasingly painful when bones move against each other.
In the early stages, arthritis can be treated with weight loss, pain relievers like ibuprofen, physical therapy, or corticosteroid shots. However, when those treatments no longer relieve pain, viscous injections can be used. The process for administering the viscous injection is relatively quick and may involve one to five shots over several weeks. The gel-like fluid is injected into the painful joint. Because this fluid is naturally occurring and found in the synovial fluid around the joints, it is very effective when injected at the site of pain. The fluid lubricates the bones and allows them to move smoothly over each other, which results in better shock absorption for joints.
After the injection is given, there may be some tenderness and swelling as well as local pain for a few days. The injection usually relieves pain for six to twelve months.