What is Supartz?
Supartz is one of many types of injections that can be injected into the knee joint with the hope of relieving pain and discomfort. You may know of this type of injection as a ‘gel injection’, ‘gel shot’, ‘hyaluronic acid,’ or one of the other brand names such as ‘Euflexxa.’ It’s made up of a fluid called Sodium Hyaluronate, which is similar to the substance called hyaluronan, or hyaluronate, that your body produces naturally.
The sodium hyaluronate in Supartz is extracted from chicken combs, or created in a lab using a process called bacterial fermentation.
Supartz was approved in the US by the FDA in 2001, to help with temporary pain relief from knee osteoarthritis, but in Japan it’s been used since 1987.
How are Supartz treatments given?
Supartz is injected right into the knee joint (intra-articularly), once a week, for 3 to 5 weeks. It usually takes at least 3 treatments to see the full benefits, so you may need to be a patient patient.
Some patients respond to the first cycle of 3-5 injections, and some respond at first but discover that the effects wear off quickly. It is possible to get a second round of the injections. Studies have found that the second cycle could be safer than the first cycle.
As with any other medication or treatment that is delivered into the body cavity, it comes with its own risks and benefits. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor prior to any medical treatment.
Can injections improve gait (walking mechanics)?
Although, injections can help ease the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis temporarily, medication cannot directly address the mechanical issues causing the symptoms. In order to do that, it is necessary to re-educate the muscles to adopt better gait (walking mechanics). That can be done with regular safe exercise programs or with AposHealth®.
AposHealth® treatment changes the line of the ground reaction force going through the painful area of the knee to decrease pressure and temporarily relieve pain42. Secondly, it trains the muscles to work better45 and support the joint even when not wearing the device42. Improved muscle activity means patients are able to temporarily feel decreased pain and stay active.
The science behind Supartz
Sodium hyaluronate, the fluid used in Supartz injections, is present naturally in healthy joints as a shock absorber and lubricant. When your joints don’t produce enough hyaluronate, it can cause stiffness and pain. Supartz injections put the fluid back into your knee joint, so the parts of the joint should slide past each other more easily.
What to know beforehand
Supartz may be a good option for many people with mild to moderate knee pain, but there are some situations when it’s not recommended. It is not recommended to use Supartz for people who:
- Are allergic to avian proteins, egg products, feathers, etc.
- Have an infection around the knee joint, or any kind of skin disease in the area of the knee joint
- Have blood clots or circulation problems in the legs
- Are pregnant or nursing – because there haven’t yet been any safety studies on the effects of Supartz on pregnant or lactating women
- Are hypersensitive or allergic to Sodium Hyaluronan
(Note: the above is not meant to be a complete list, please talk to your doctor for more information relevant to your case)
In addition, for anyone who is taking any kind of over-the-counter or prescription medication, vitamins, or herbal supplements, it is important to tell the doctor about every single one of them. Some medications may not interact well with Supartz.
How long does Supartz last?
The positive effects of Supartz injections are said to last around 9-12 months.
Supartz injection side effects
Some side effects from Supartz injections that may be common include, but are not limited to:
- Pain, redness, warmth, and tenderness at the site of the injection
- Joint pain and/or inflammation around the joint
- Nausea and stomach pain
- Difficulty walking afterward
- Tingling and numbness
Ask your doctor about any potential side effects and what you should do if you think you are experiencing any of them because some, such as a severe allergic reaction, could be potentially life threatening.
What to do after a Supartz injection
After getting a Supartz injection, it is suggested to:
- Rest your leg
- Put ice on the site of the injection
- Avoid standing for longer than an hour at a time, or lifting heavy objects, for at least 48 hours
- Not do any strenuous exercise like running, jumping, squatting, etc. for at least 48 hours
Alternatives to Supartz
There are other injection treatments like hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan), Synvisc, and Hyalgan, which work in a similar way to Supartz. And there are non-invasive options as well.
Knee osteoarthritis can be extremely debilitating and interferes with normal function. Joint deterioration is progressive due to the ageing process. It is highly recommended to change your lifestyle and protect your joints with safe exercises, stretching, physical therapy and AposHealth® so that more invasive treatments can be used as needed if or when less invasive treatments don’t provide enough relief.