If physical therapy and medication fail, a doctor might suggest viscosupplementation to help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Viscosupplementation is a medical procedure involving injecting the affected joint with viscoelastic gel; this stimulates the action of synovial fluid, resulting in the restoration of the joints. Two popular viscosupplementation brands are Synvisc and Supartz. Choosing between these viscosupplements can be difficult, but there are a variety of factors that can determine the best treatment for you. Read on to find out more about the differences and similarities between Supartz and Synvisc.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is an inflammatory disease that occurs in the synovial joints and is caused by cartilage deterioration. This disease causes the cartilage in the joints to grow stiff and reduce its elasticity and ability to protect the joint. This long-term inflammatory disease is most common in the following groups: elderly, those with previous joint injuries, and those who are overweight. Stiffness, swelling, intense pain, and limited mobility are some of the common symptoms of osteoarthritis. If the condition worsens and the cartilage wears thin, the bones could rub directly rub against each other, causing friction that can be intensely painful. Physical therapy and pharmacological methods are among some of the treatment approaches used to treat osteoarthritis, depending on each patient and the severity of their disease.

What are Synvisc and Supartz made of?

Synvisc (hylan G-F 20) is a sterile, elastoviscous fluid that contains hylan A and hylan B polymers. These polymers are extracted ethically from chicken combs. As for the Supartz injection, this brand of viscosupplement is a non-surgical and non-pharmacologic therapy for knee osteoarthritis. This product is made from densely purified sodium hyaluronate, which is also known as hyaluronic acid. These hyaluronans are ethically extracted from the top of chicken combs and are verified to be suitable for human consumption.

How long will the effects of the treatment last?

 A complete treatment of Synvisc involves injecting the affected joint three times, with each injection spaced one week apart. Patients notice improvements to their condition about a month following the completion of a Synvisc treatment session. These effects typically last for about six months before the gel is completely reabsorbed into the surrounding tissues. For Supartz, the full course of treatment includes one intraarticular injection once a week for three weeks. However, some other patients may require up to five injections of Supartz. The effects of this injectable viscosupplement procedure typically last up to six months.

Is treatment with Synvisc vs Supartz the same?

Both these viscosupplements are administered through an injection with a needle into the synovial space in the joints. If the injected area has fluid buildup, it is important to remove said fluid before the implantation to prevent infection and other undesired side effects. 

Which viscosupplement has fewer side effects?

Supartz and Synvisc both cause side effects following treatment. Neither have fewer side effects, but you can discuss common reactions with your doctor prior to treatment.  

Can I use Supartz and Synvisc for other joint ailments?

Although both viscosupplements are indicated for osteoarthritis for the knee, doctors often use both for other affected joints.

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How much is the cost of a full course treatment?

The treatment cost will vary depending on the region you live in and your doctor’s expertise. Always choose a licensed medical practitioner to carry out the procedure. If you are concerned about the cost, talk to your health insurance agency to find out if they might cover the treatment.