Simple Injection Relieves Bone-On-Bone Pain - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Simple Injection Relieves Bone-On-Bone Pain

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LOS ANGELES - About 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis - a condition that causes joint fluid to thin out, resulting in bone-on-bone pain. 

Surgery is invasive and requires a long recovery. Now, a simple injection may help patients, and it comes from an unlikely source.  

Ion Hartunian used to train for triathlons. Today, he's just happy to go for a leisurely ride. 

"That bike was collecting dust in my closet for two years. I could not ride it at all," Ion Hartunian, arthritis patient, said. 

Ion has osteoarthritis in both hips. Even simple activities like working at his computer were out of the question.  

"I couldn't sit at the computer for longer than 20 or 30 minutes without getting on the floor and having to stretch," Hartunian said. 

The pain was so bad doctors scheduled Ion for surgery. But he cancelled the procedure after trying this injection - called Synvisc. It's made from the comb of a rooster! 

"The proteins that are made out of that are similar to the proteins made in joint fluid." Joseph Robinson, M.D., Musculoskeletal Radiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said. 

In a 15-minute procedure, doctors take x-rays of the patient - infusing a dye to show them that the needle is in the arthritic joint. Then, they inject the gel directly in that spot. It cushions and lubricates the area --just like real cartilage. 

"You can think of it kind of like motor oil for your joints." Dr. Robinson said. 

It's typically injected every six months. It's currently being used for knees and hips but can potentially be placed in any joint. A recent study showed 75 percent of patients were able to delay knee replacement surgery after having the treatment. Doctors said that's a big benefit for younger patients. 

"Just like a car will wear out after a certain number of years, implants have a lifespan," Dr. Robinson explained. 

At 50 years old - the injection was a welcome option for Ion. 

"It just got me back to a normal lifestyle," Hartunia said. 

Now, he can sit and work for hours at a time or ride around town. 

"Quitting is not an option for me. I want to be as active as possible and keep doing everything that I want to do," Hartunian concluded. 

And he can without pain slowing him down. 

Synvisc is covered by most insurance companies as a six-month treatment for knee osteoarthritis. There is a small risk of injecting it in the wrong spot, which can cause pain and inflammation, but Dr. Robinson said that is extremely rare. 

RESEARCH SUMMARY:

BACKGROUND: According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 21 million adults. Arthritis is a group of conditions involving damage to the joints of the body. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form, osteoarthritis, is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks itself. Each year, arthritis results in nearly 1,000,000 hospitalizations and close to 45,000,000 outpatient visits to health care centers.

The causes of arthritis depend on the form. Causes include injury metabolic abnormalities, hereditary factors, the direct and indirect effect of infections, and a misdirected immune system with autoimmunity. Symptoms of arthritis include pain; limited function of joints; and inflammation of the joints, which is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. (SOURCE: The Arthritis Foundation)

TREATMENT: The treatment of arthritis is very dependent on the precise type of arthritis present. An accurate diagnosis increases the chances for successful treatment. Some treatments available include physical therapy, splinting, cold-pack application, paraffin wax dips, anti-inflammatory medications immune-altering medications, and surgical operations.

A NEW SHOT AT LIFE: Viscosupplementation is a way to treat osteoarthritis of the knee. In recent years, it's also been used to treat arthritis in the hip. Viscosupplementation involves an injection, made from a natural substance, which lubricates and cushions joints. These injections can typically provide up to six months of pain relief. It's about 15-minute procedure for patients, and they'll be able to go home immediately after the treatment. Doctors may take X-rays of the patient, infusing a dye to show them that the needle is in the arthritic joint. Then, they inject the gel directly in that spot. It cushions and lubricates the area - just like real cartilage.

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