Synvisc is a clear, injectable fluid used in orthopedics to lessen or eliminate the pain of osteoarthritis in the knees. First approved by the FDA in 1997, the injections are performed in the doctor's office either with or without a local anesthetic and take only a few minutes to administer.
Many orthopedic surgeons use Synvisc to delay knee replacements. When degenerative joint disease (DJD) has reached a moderate to severe level, the patient may be relying on oral pain medications and inactivity to keep pain at bay. With Synvisc, patients can often wean off oral medication and resume an active lifestyle within days. The reason for this is that the injections behave much like the naturally-occurring synovial fluid in the knees by absorbing shock and cushioning the joint.
There is no preparation necessary before receiving injections. Afterwards, patients may experience a flare-up of pain and mild swelling. This normally passes within 48 hours. While routine activities can be resumed immediately, rigorous exercise is discouraged for at least two days. Patients are urged to call their doctor if they develop hives, a rash, or vomiting, as these can be hallmarks of a rare allergic reaction.
Synvisc is given in three injections spaced apart by one week. Most patients experience relief after a few days of their first shot, with increasing relief with each injection. Six months later, the injections can once again be repeated. Because Synvisc is natural, there is no limit to how often the six-month cycles can be repeated. As long as you are receiving pain relief, there is no reason to go without. It is also not necessary to have injections every six months, this time frame is simply the minimum amount of time that must pass between cycles. If you are still pain-free after half a year, you do not need injections again until you feel discomfort returning.
Synvisc is also used in shoulders and ankles by some orthopedists. This is considered an off-label use, and results may or may not be satisfactory.
There are several groups of people who should not accept Synvisc. It is made from natural substances, so those with allergies to birds or bird products, feathers, or eggs should not have these injections. Because it's effects on fetuses and babies is unknown, women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are currently breast-feeding should not have Synvisc injections. Any patient with a compromised immune system should weight their options carefully, as any injection comes with a small risk of infection.
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