Hyalgan and Synvisc are medications used to treat the knee discomfort associated with joint inflammation. Many doctors use it for patients who suffer with one of the many forms of arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee pain. The pain of the joint is the direct result of the smooth cartilage of the joint wearing thin.
These solutions are generally reserved for people who do not respond to conservative therapies such as medications like acetaminophen, exercise, and physical therapy. Because Hyalgan and Synvisc are similar to a naturally occurring substance in the joints, they work by acting as shock absorbers and lubricants for the joint. This allows for a smooth motion of the joint, and therefore, a reduction in pain.
Difference Number 1: Composition
The active component of Synvisc is hyaluronate, also known as hyaluronan. This solution is injected into joints to help them move smoothly, therefore decreasing pain and stiffness. Hyaluronate is a substance similar to the fluid inside the joint. Synvisc is a gel-type mixture made up of hylan A fluid, hylan B gel, and a salt water solution. Hyaluronate is a natural complex sugar from the glycosaminoglycan family. This long-chain polymer contains repeating disaccharide units of Na-clucuronate-N-acetylglucosamine. The Hyalgan product comes from hyaluronan, as well. Hyalgan is a viscous solution derived of purified natural sodium hyaluronate. This viscous solution has a high molecular weight.
Difference Number 2: Manufacturer
Synvisc is a registered trademark of the Genzyme Corporation in the United States, where Hylagan is a brand of the Fidia Farmaceutici Corporation in Italy.
Difference Number 3: How it is Given
Synvisc is typically given in a series of 3 injections, approximately 3 weeks apart. You may not experience significant relief until you have your second or third injection. Some patients report relief after the first injection however. Hylagan, on the other hand, is a 5 injection regimen that is given at weekly intervals. Some patients report benefits after only 2 or 3 injections.
Similarity Number 1: Mechanism of Action
Both Hylagan and Synvisc work the same way. The exact way, however, is not known. Experts believe that these substances act as lubricants and shock absorbers in the joint to allow it to glide smoothly through range of motion. With osteoarthritis there is not enough natural hyaluronan in the joint and the addition of Synvisc or Hylagan into the joint alleviates this problem.
Similarity Number 2: Where it Comes From
Both Hylagan and Synvisc are composed of hyaluronate. The hyaluronate is extracted from rooster combs, a type of fleshy growth found on the upper portion of chicken heads. The comb substance is put in a solution buffered in physiological sodium chloride.
Similarity Number 3: Side Effects
The side effects of Synvisc and Hylagan are the same. These include pain, redness, warmth, and swelling. Both are equally likely to cause a severe anaphylactic reaction. You should notify the doctor immediately if you experience a fast, pounding heartbeat, difficulty breathing, tingling skin, dizziness, or itching.