Knee and hip arthritis are common condition that can be highly debilitating, preventing people from participating in the activities that are important to them. When knee or hip arthritis become so severe that the bones are grinding painfully when moved, surgery is usually the only solution. However, exciting technologies are being developed to treat knee and hip arthritis without surgery and may even be successful at preventing the progression of arthritis.
One new technological advancement is a medicine called Synvisc which can be injected into the knee or hip joint to help treat arthritis. This has been developed to mimic the highly specialised joint fluid that is produced by a healthy joint and contains hyaluronan, which is essential in lubricating and protecting your joint. Some people experience an improvement in their symptoms within a few days of the injection and then continue to improve for up to a month. Synvisc injection has been known to provide relief of joint arthritis symptoms for up to a year after injection. Generally, the injection can be repeated if symptoms recur.
It can be given in three doses one week apart or “Synvisc-One” which is designed as the same result but as a one off dose. Currently Lyndon Bradley recommends the three doses one week apart, but both have excellent evidence of good results. The price is the same no matter if you chose three doses or one.
The injection procedure is straightforward and your surgeon can provide this in his rooms. The skin is cleaned with antiseptic and sterile equipment is used. The needle required in usually no larger than is used in a blood test so most people do not experience undue discomfort from the injection procedure. After the procedure, you will be able to return home and avoiding exercise or vigorous activity is generally advised for 48 hours. You should be able to resume normal activities in a few days
While the majority of patients who have a Synvisc injection experience no side effects, any medicine or procedure carries some risk. This includes:
- Transient pain around the injection site
- Allergic reaction to the medication. This maybe mild in the form of a temporary rash or itching but in severe cases, can be a serious problem requiring further treatment
- Rarely, infection at the injection site which may require antibiotics or in extreme cases, surgery to washout the knee joint could be necessary
You should discuss the benefits and possible risks with your surgeon before agreeing to the procedure.
The Synvisc injection is not funded by Pharmac. Your health insurance provider may or may not provide cover for this treatment so it will be important to consider this before proceeding.