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Format: 04/19/2014
Format: 04/19/2014


KDKA-TV: Treatment Offers Knee Pain Sufferers Relief Reporting

Monday, March 8th, 2010

If you've ever suffered with knee pain, you know how excruciating it can be; but many try to live with the pain because the idea of having a knee replacement is terrifying.

However, local doctors are now offering an alternative treatment.

With wear and tear arthritis, also called osteoarthritis, there's a lower than normal concentration of a natural lubricant in the knee joint.

And for people who can't get pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy or steroid shots, a technique to replace the joint lubricant could help.

Tom Hershey, 61, of Greensburg, has had knee problems from his days playing baseball as a young man. He had a left knee replacement in 2003 when he just couldn't take it anymore.

"When I was teaching at school, I was just dragging my leg behind me, just walking down the hall," said Hershey.

He says he's trying to put off a right knee replacement as long as he can. So, to keep his symptoms under control, he is getting injections of viscosupplementation.

The idea behind viscosupplementation is to inject the knee joint with hyaluronic acid.

It is derived from animals and is similar to a gel-like lubricant your body makes in the joint fluid. It acts as a cushion and reduces friction.

The technique of using a series of hyaluronic acid shots was FDA approved in 1997.

Several products are available, including brand names Orthovisc, Hyalgan, Supartz and Synvisc. Of these, Synvisc has gone from three injections - a week apart - to just a single shot.

Hershey said he had the older version years ago, and was eager to try the new and improved schedule.

"When he told me I could make just one trip into Pittsburgh instead of three, well it was a no brainer," said Hershey. "I jumped on it."

"If we can do anything in medicine that saves people pain and time and is just as efficacious, then it's a win-win-win for everybody," said Dr. Nicholas Sotereanos, of Allegheny General Hospital Orthopedics.

To read more, visit the KDKA website.

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