Viscosupplementation is a viscous, gel-like solution that is injected directly into a joint affected by light to moderate arthritis.
What is Ultrasound-guided viscosupplementation?
Ultrasound-guided viscosupplementation restores joint mobility and relieves pain. The gel is made primarily of hyaluronic acid, a chemical that occurs naturally in the liquid surrounding your joints.
Hyaluronic acid injections are available under various brand names including Durolane, Synvisc and Hyaluronan.
When is the ultrasound-guided viscosupplementation needed?
A joint is the connection between two bones surrounded by a layer of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber. The surrounding tissues produce gel that lubricates the joint and enables it to move freely and painlessly. Moving the joint helps stimulate the production of this lubricating gel.
Osteoarthritis refers to the premature or excessive wear and tear of a joint. As the joint degenerates, the cartilage thins and there is less synovial fluid. With less lubricating fluid around it, the joint moves less and therefore fails to stimulate the production of more synovial fluid. This in turn causes further degeneration of the cartilage, in what becomes a vicious cycle. People with osteoarthritis experience grinding joints, stiffness and pain.
By providing lubricating fluid to the joint, hyaluronic acid injections can help restore some joint mobility.
This treatment is commonly used for knees, but it can also be applied to feet:
What are the benefits of ultrasound-guided viscosupplementation?
- Treats symptoms directly at source
- Can delay or prevent the need for surgery
- Is an alternative to oral pain medications
- Can be repeated as needed
- Is performed at the podiatrist’s clinic
- Is a fast and easy procedure
- A single injection is enough
- Ultrasound guidance can improve injection precision and efficacy
- Can be performed under local anaesthesia
Evaluation of the patient’s condition:
Before deciding on viscosupplementation, your podiatrist will review your medical history, perform a biomechanical evaluation and take x-rays of the affected area.
In some cases, anaesthetic is injected locally to reduce discomfort associated with the procedure.
Ultrasound is used to track the position of the needle and determine the right injection site in real time.
The procedure can be repeated a few months later, if needed.
- Before proceeding with viscosupplementation, the podiatrist will assess your overall condition. This includes reviewing your medical history, performing a biomechanical evaluation and taking x-rays. Your doctor will then prescribe a treatment plan appropriate to your condition. Most often, viscosupplementation is used in combination with other treatments.
- In some cases, the podiatrist may do a first local anaesthetic injection to reduce discomfort associated with the injection.
- Ultrasound is used to track the position of the needle and determine the right injection site in real time.
- The podiatrist may apply a bandage to support the joint after the injection.
- The procedure can be repeated a few months later, if needed.
Viscosupplementation treatments are very painful!
We use an ultrasound-guided technique that allows us to inject fluid directly into the joint, which is a much more tolerable procedure. In more complex cases, local anaesthetic is used to prevent discomfort.