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How Effective Is Hyaluronic Acid for Arthritis?

By B. Chisholm
Updated May 17, 2024
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Using hyaluronic acid for arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, may be effective. It is an injectable drug used to treat the pain associated with osteoarthritis in patients not responding to normal analgesia. The drug may be known by different trade names in different countries; in most countries it is available by prescription only and needs to be administered by a trained health care professional.

The mechanism of action of hyaluronic acid for arthritis, of the osteoarthritis type, is by its local action at the joint into which it is injected. The hyaluronic acid mimics the naturally occurring fluid which is normally around the joints, acting as a lubricant and allowing the joint to move smoothly. By using hyaluronic acid for arthritis, the pain associated with moving the joints in people suffering from osteoarthritis may be relieved.

Osteoarthritis is a condition which affects the joints, usually in the older population. It most often affects the joints of the knees, hips and hands but can affect any joint in the body. It causes inflammation around the affected joint, and damage to the cartilage and bony outgrowths which can become progressively more painful as the disease continues.

Before using injectable hyaluronic acid for arthritis, less invasive methods of treatment are usually first tried. These include analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications and non-drug measures, such as strengthening exercises. In some more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Injectable hyaluronic acid for arthritis is administered intra-articularly. This means that, when treating a patient with osteoarthritis, it is injected directly into the affected joint. It is usually administered on a weekly basis, for three to five weeks, depending on response. Administration should be done under sterile conditions by a trained professional to minimize the risks associated with incorrect injection.

As with any medication, hyaluronic acid may be contraindicated in patients with some underlying clinical conditions. These should be discussed with the prescribing doctor, before administration. Adverse effects may also occur which may include local reactions at the injection site such as temporary pain and swelling. Headache and gastrointestinal side effects have also been reported.

After receiving the injection, it is advised that the patient does not perform any strenuous activity. Standing for long periods, jogging and playing sport should be avoided for a day or two. The treating doctor will monitor the progress of the patient and decide on how many injections will be given, according to response on a patient-by-patient basis.

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