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Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects the joint (in particular, the knee joint). Being highly prevalent, osteoarthritis affects over 27 million adults in the US alone. Generally speaking, adults in their mid to late forties are more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis than any other age groups. Due to the complex nature of the condition, the mechanisms underlying the progression of osteoarthritis have not been completely elucidated. However, it is believed that stress on the joint, wear and tear, and repetitive movements are the major causes of osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, there is extra friction between the bones due to the depletion of hyaluronic acid. As a result, knee pain and stiffness occur. Over time, the symptoms become more severe, eventually making it difficult to walk or stand. There are a few modifiable risk factors associated with osteoarthritis, for example, previous sports injuries and obesity. Apart from that, genetic factors may also play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. Pharmacotherapy (e.g. paracetamol), exercise, and physical therapies are commonly used as the first-line treatments in osteoarthritis knee pain. At the same time, hyaluronic acid-based viscosupplements such as Orthovisc and Supartz are also used as second-line treatments.
Orthovisc and Supartz are some of the most popular viscosupplement injectables. Orthovisc is developed by DePuy Synthes, an orthopedic company owned by Johnson & Johnson. Supartz, on the other hand, is a product of Bioventus LLC. Headquartered in the US, Bioventus LLC is a healthcare company specialized in orthobiologic solutions.
Basically, viscosupplementation is a type of treatment that cushions the knee joint. Supplied as injections, viscosupplementation is often formulated as a gel-like injectable. Both Orthovisc and Supartz contain hyaluronic acid, an element that that mimics the action of a natural substance in the knee joint. Once injected, viscosupplements such as Orthovisc and Supartz help to absorb shock, thereby allowing smoother bone movements. At the same time, they reduce the friction between the bones, effectively relieving knee pain and restoring mobility.
Before using Orthovisc and Supartz, doctors will remove any excess fluid from the knee joint. The hyaluronic acid gel is injected into the joint space with a sterile needle. The whole procedure typically takes a few minutes to complete. As a rule of thumb, patients should not perform any vigorous physical activities several days after treatment. Orthovisc and Supartz injections should be administered by a board-certified doctor. To ensure patient safety, Orthovisc and Supartz should be used on injection sites that are free from skin diseases and infections.
As with most injections, Orthovisc and Supartz may cause transient swelling and pain at the injection site. Other than that, Orthovisc may also cause mild reactions such as redness, itching, bruising, and itching. Due to their self-limiting nature, these symptoms tend to resolve themselves without further interventions. Furthermore, viscosupplement injections have a small risk of causing complications such as fluid retention and bleeding.
Supartz is sourced from rooster and chicken combs; therefore, it has a risk of causing an avian allergy reaction (often characterized by hives or urticaria, itching, swelling and skin rash). As a precaution, Supartz should not be used in patients with known hypersensitivity to avian (bird) proteins. Orthovisc, on the other hand, has a non-animal origin; therefore, is not likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
When it comes to the clinical efficacy of viscosupplements, some researchers have advised against using viscosupplements in osteoarthritis due to the potential risks of side effects and limited benefits. Contradictorily, viscosupplements are shown to be significantly more effective than placebos in various clinical tests conducted in the US. Plus, they have demonstrated long-lasting pain relief in some clinical trials. As well, patients do report a significant improvement of their symptoms. Regardless, Orthovisc and Supartz provide hope for patients who respond poorly to conventional first-line treatments.
Osteoarthritis is a highly disabling disease that often causes severe joint pain. As the disease progresses, the daily functioning of patients is severely affected. Many of them have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or even standing. Unsurprisingly, osteoarthritis is ranked as one of the most disabling conditions worldwide. While first-line treatments such as pain killers and physical therapy are reasonably effective, they fail to provide adequate pain relief for some patients. Viscosupplements such as Orthovisc and Supartz are useful alternatives to these conservative treatments, helping to reduce knee pain for long-lasting symptomatic relief. While osteoarthritis cannot be cured, it is possible to keep its symptoms under control and slow disease progression. Orthovisc and Supartz are intended for professional use. Talk to your doctor about whether viscosupplementation is right for you.