Osteoarthritis is the most common type of knee pain in the older population, and the most common cause of disability within every age range. Essentially, the general wear and tear on your knees takes its toll over time, and causes loss of cartilage. The symptoms and wear can be exacerbated by excess body weight or lingering sport injuries.
Often, chronic knee pain results in a total knee replacement (TKR), but approximately 20% of those who undergo TKR are left dissatisfied with the results. This percentage is even higher among younger knee replacement patients. Unfortunately, these younger patients are also at a great risk of needing a second operation in the future.
The resolution to this issue is still less than satisfactory, and additional studies and advances are being explored. Orthovisc, platelet rich plasma, stem cells, and other types of minimally invasive treatment options have all increased in popularity in recent years.
Orthovisc, also known as hyaluronic acid, is a viscosupplement injection treatment that begins to work almost immediately. The liquid mimics the body’s own naturally produced synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant in the joints. Injections of orthovisc have been known to relieve joint pain in patients for up to 6 months after each injection, with minimal side effects. Typically, patients will only have side effects from the treatment if they are allergic to it.
Viscosupplement treatments are injected directly into the knee. When administering the treatment, the physician targets the affected area based on information gathered from MRIs. The technique rests heavily on the doctor’s accumulated experience. While guiding the needle in the patient’s knee, the risk remains that the physician will contact the fat pad within the knee during the operation, which may result in additional pain; or inject in an incorrect area, resulting in an ineffective treatment.
Sonography may hold the key to giving a doctor eyes inside the patient, while still making the treatment minimally invasive.
Ultrasound waves are used for diagnostics and treatment in a number of medical fields of study, most notably obstetrics, where ultrasounds are used regularly to conduct in utero checks on babies. Ultrasounds aren’t damaging in the way that x-rays are, and they allow doctors to get a clear picture of the area they are treating.
Several studies have shown that administering viscosupplement treatments with the visual aid of sonography allows doctors to administer the treatments without any accidental tissue contact. Injected fluid is also more likely to be deposited in the correct area. With these new treatment options, osteoarthritic patients are given the opportunity to live more mobile, pain-free lives.