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Ranked as the 11th highest contributor to disability, osteoarthritis is a degenerative, multifactorial condition that mostly affects the knee joint. Osteoarthritis is highly prevalent and affects millions of individuals around the world. It is estimated that more than 27 million US adults are now living with osteoarthritis. Some of its symptoms include pain, stiffness, a grating sensation, tenderness, bone spurs and loss of flexibility. These symptoms tend to deteriorate over time, affecting the ability to climb stairs, walk and even stand.
Physiologically, osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear, stress on the joint, and repetitive movements. Some of risk factors, such as previous sports injuries and obesity, may further increase the risk of getting osteoarthritis. In healthy individuals, cartilage functions as a protective cushion, helping to facilitate the bone movements of the joint. When osteoarthritis occurs, the hyaluronic acid in the joint undergoes degradation, resulting in extra friction between the bones. Consequently, this causes severe knee pain and stiffness.
Unsurprisingly, osteoarthritis is one the leading causes of pain. The first-line treatments for osteoarthritis include pharmacotherapy (such as pain killers), physical therapy, and exercise. For obese patients, it is recommended to implement lifestyle changes such as weight loss. In addition, viscosupplement injections such as Orthovisc and Synvisc are also used as second-line treatments. While reasonably effective, first-line therapy may not work for all patients. Offering effective pain relief, Orthovisc and Synvisc serve as the perfect alternatives to conventional treatment modalities. They are especially useful for patients who respond inadequately to first-line treatments.
Orthovisc and Synvisc are some of the most commonly used viscosupplements. Orthovisc is a product of DePuy Synthes. Synvisc is developed and manufactured by Sanofi S.A. There are several other brands of viscosupplements such as Supartz and Monovisc.
Orthovisc and Synvisc are generally indicated for patients who fail to obtain adequate pain relief from conventional treatment modalities.
Do Orthovisc and Synvisc work the same way?
The mechanism of action of viscosupplementation is fairly straight forward—it cushions the knee joint. Supplied as injectables, viscosupplements such as Orthovisc and Synvisc exert their shock-absorbing properties to allow smooth movements between the bones. As the result, knee pain is dramatically reduced. Plus, Orthovisc and Synvisc have shown excellent results in restoring patient mobility and functionality. As with other pain killers, Orthovisc and Synvisc are not designed to treat the underlying cause of osteoarthritis.
How are viscosupplements injected?
Both Orthovisc and Synvisc are designed to be administered via intraarticular injections. The dosing schedule of Orthovisc and Synvisc are similar, involving three injections performed over three weeks (one injection per week). Two milliliters of the injectable gel should be used for each injection. Notably, Synvisc is also available in a single-injection formulation called Synvisc One.
Due to the conflicting evidence regarding its effectiveness, the role of viscosupplementation in knee pain treatment remains controversial. That being said, many researchers have observed long lasting pain relief (for up to one year) from viscosupplementation injections.
Orthovisc and Synvisc are useful alternatives for the treatment of osteoarthritis knee pain, especially when all other first-line treatments fail.
While both indicated for osteoarthritis knee pain, there are some fundamental differences between Orthovisc and Synvisc in terms of their ingredients. For instance, the concentration of the active ingredients for Orthovisc and Synvisc are 30mg and 16mg, respectively.
Due to its avian origin (rooster and chicken combs), Synvisc has a small risk of causing allergic reactions. This includes hives or urticaria, swelling of the face, itching and rash. To prevent undesirable reactions, individuals with known allergies to bird (avian) proteins should avoid using Synvisc.
In contrast to Synvisc, Orthovisc is derived from a non-avian source.
Osteoarthritis is a complex, multifactorial condition that causes severe knee pain. While highly disabling, it is possible to control osteoarthritis with the right treatments. When choosing between Orthovisc and Synvisc, you will want to consider their ingredients, dosing schedules, and cost.