Viscosupplements for OA of the Knee

Osteoarthritis is the fifth leading cause of disability in the world and the most common cause of disability in adults in the United States. Viscosupplementation is a treatment option involving hyaluronic acid, generally prescribed for people who have early, mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. If you are suffering from earlt stages of osteoarthritis, joint injections with the advanced Genvisc 850 system allow your joint to receive lubricating hyaluronate for better mobility and less pain. At Restore Osteo of Colorado, the integrative health care team often recommends joint injections to treat knee pain from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones. This causes stiffness, pain, swelling, and loss of mobility in the affected joint. It is the fifth leading cause of disability in the world, affecting 10% of the world’s population 60 years of age and older. In high-income countries, up to 80% of people aged 65 and older will suffer from osteoarthritis. In the United States, it is the most common cause of disability in adults. More than 30 million Americans suffer from this condition and 14 million have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

Viscosupplementation is one type of treatment for this condition. It was developed in Europe in the 1980s specifically to treat knee osteoarthritis. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it “for the treatment of pain in osteoarthritis … of the knee in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conservative non-pharmacologic therapy and simple analgesics, e.g. acetaminophen.”1

Viscosupplementation is a medical procedure in which a gel-like fluid containing synthetic hyaluronic acid is injected into a joint to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis. The fluid provides cushioning for the bones. Hyaluronic acid is naturally secreted by mesothelial cells present in the joints. Treatments are performed once a week for three to five weeks. Some newer forms only require one injection. Once the pain and swelling from the procedure itself dissipate, some patients experience reduced arthritis pain and better mobility for up to 6 months. Others may not experience any pain relief at all. Viscosupplementation is generally prescribed for people who have early, mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis, patients who previously have taken NSAID pain relievers but whose pain was not alleviated. Some brand names include Synvisc, Euflexxa, Orthovisc, Hyalgan, and Monovisc, to name a few.

Today’s market size shows the amount spent on viscosupplementation worldwide in 2016 and projected for 2026. Demand for viscosupplementation treatments is expected to increase due to the preference for minimally-invasive procedures, the growing geriatric population worldwide and the increase in the number of people who have conditions that make them prone to osteoarthritis such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and trauma to the joints due to repetitive movements. Several leading companies in this industry include Sanofi, Allergan, Hoffmann-La Roche, Zimmer Biomet, Smith & Nephew Plc, Anika Therapeutics Inc., Fidia Farmaceutici S.P.A., Ferring B.V., Bioventus, Regen Lab SA, among others.

1 Source: “American College of Rheumatology Position Statement” available online here.

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