What are Hyaluronates?
In order for joints to move smoothly they must contain an adequate amount of synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant and shock absorber. Osteoarthritis causes synovial fluid to lose its properties by depletion of a component called hyaluronan. This leads to loss of cartilage and painful rubbing of the bones in the joints. A gel-like form of hyaluronan called hyaluronates or hyaluronic acid may be prepared and injected into the joints to increase their lubricating and shock-absorbing properties. Hyaluronate injections can relieve pain, improve mobility and delay the need for surgery.
Indications for Hyaluronate Injections
Hyaluronate injections are usually performed after other non-surgical treatments for osteoarthritis such as medications, physical therapy and steroid injections have failed.
Procedure of Hyaluronate Injections
The procedure, also called viscosupplementation, first involves removal of any excess joint fluid with a syringe. Hyaluronates are then injected into the joint.
What to Expect After Hyaluronates Injections
Immediately following the injection, you may experience pain, swelling and warmth, which can be eased by ice applications. Avoid weight-bearing or strenuous activity involving the joint for the next 48 hours. The pain and swelling from osteoarthritis is gradually relieved with effects lasting for several months. A single dose or a total of 3 separate doses over several weeks may be required for optimum benefits.
Complications of Hyaluronates
Complications are rare but occasionally an allergic reaction may develop, intensifying symptoms.