Information regarding your viscosupplementation (gel) injection*
About your Injection
Gel injections may be helpful for patients whose arthritis has not responded to basic conservative treatments such as lifestyle activity modification, over-the-counter pain reliever medication, physical therapy, and cortisone injections. Gel injections are composed of hyaluronic acid, a thick naturally occurring substance found in the synovial joint which acts as a lubricant and shock absorber to enable bones to move more smoothly over each other. In patients with mild to moderate arthritis, the amount of hyaluronic acid may be lower than normal. A gel injection may be a therapeutic option for such individuals. The injection is administered using sterile technique after verbal consent is obtained.
Care after Gel Injection
It is common to experience swelling, pain, and slight redness around the injection site for the first 24-48 hours after your injection. You may apply ice for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours over the next few hours and/or take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate the pain. You are encouraged to avoid excessive physical activity following the injection.
Though the injection does not have immediate pain relieving effects, it may lessen your arthritic pain over time as hyaluronic acid seems to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. The injections may stimulate the body to produce more of its own hyaluronic acid. The injection may take up to one month to become fully effective.
With any injection, the risk of allergic reaction, infection, and bleeding is possible, though less likely when proper sterile technique is used. If you begin to experience abnormal symptoms such as spreading redness, rash, itching, increase in swelling, increased warmth surrounding the injection site, rapid heart rate or difficulty breathing, please call our office or seek medical attention. Swelling, redness around the incision site and itching often resolve on their own within several days.
The effects may last for several months. If the gel injection does help to alleviate your pain, you may receive an injection every 6 months as needed to alleviate your arthritis pain. Please call our office with any questions you may have.
Please note that some insurance companies require pre-authorization through our office prior to cortisone injections which may require a second visit for the injection. With Synvisc injections, you must wait 6 moths to the day for a subsequent injection.
*Adapted from American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
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Illinois Bone and Joint Institute