Your body makes hyaluronic acid. It's a natural part of the fluid that lubricates and has been shown to improve shock absorption in your joints and it keeps them working smoothly.
When you have osteoarthritis (OA), the hyaluronic acid in the affected joint becomes thinner. Hyaluronic acid injections add to your body's natural supply. They can reduce joint pain and improve nutrition to the joint surfaces. When effective the benefit can last for many months sometimes more than 6 months and the benefit in some cases can last for up to a year.
Why are Hyaluronic Acid Injections offered to patients?
Health professionals can’t predict who will benefit from hyaluronic acid injections. But many doctors and qualified allied health professionals give hyaluronic acid injections to people with osteoarthritic joints who are active and want to continue to maintain an active lifestyle and whose symptoms have not responded to non-drug treatments such as exercise heat or ice, and who have not been getting better with painkillers such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Naproxen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
Hyaluronic acid injections are often tried by people who can't take painkillers. It is also useful in for those who don’t want or can't have invasive surgery.
How Effective Are Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Osteoarthritis?
Studies show that hyaluronic acid injections may work better than painkillers for some people with OA. Other studies have shown they also may work as well as corticosteroid knee injections.
Hyaluronic acid injections seem to work better for some people than others. From my extensive experience in using hyaluronic acid injections for osteoarthritis joint conditions patients who have pain induced by load bearing or activity tend to respond more favourably than those who have very high levels of pain even during rest (i.e non-mechanical pain). In the second group steroid injections (if appropriate) are more likely to lead to pain reduction.
What happens during the injection?
You will be placed in a comfortable position. The skin is cleaned with antiseptic. A needle is positioned into the affected area whilst the procedure is monitored by means of ultrasound guidance. The hyaluronic acid is injected through the needle. A plaster will be placed over the site to keep it clean.
Is the injection painful?
The injection is not particularly painful although due to the higher volume injected and the gel like consistency it can be slightly more uncomfortable than a steroid injection. The clinician is thoroughly trained in this procedure. Sometimes there could be several days of pain following the procedure.
Further information on hyaluronic acid injections
Before your appointment you will receive an information leaflet on hyaluronic acid injections. Please read this carefully. Also, please fill out and return the questionnaire we will provide on your general health so that we can be sure this treatment is right for you.