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Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections

Effectiveness of Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections continued...

But a similar analysis of twenty studies-- published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery -- found that injections of hyaluronan did reduce pain and increase the function of the knee in people with osteoarthritis.

In studies that show effectiveness, pain relief lasts up to six months or a year. It works better in some people than in others. People who are older or have advanced osteoarthritis may be less likely to be helped.

Making Your Decision on Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections

What role should hyaluronic acid joint injections play in your personal treatment plan?

Typically, hyaluronan is only tried when other treatments -- like physical therapy, exercise, and injections with painkillers and steroids -- have failed, say the experts.

One advantage of hyaluronic acid joint injections is that the side effects are mild. The most common are swelling and discomfort at the site of the injection. Since the risks of hyaluronan are small, your doctor may feel it is worth a try -- especially if your only other option is surgery.

Hyaluronan may also be a good choice if the side effects of other treatments aren't acceptable.

For instance, some people cannot take common painkillers such as aspirin, Advil, Aleve, or Motrin because of the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. And steroid injections, another common treatment for osteoarthritis, can lead to joint deterioration if overused.

If you're interested in hyaluronic acid joint injections, talk to your doctor. Given that side effects are mild and generally rare, your doctor may agree to give it a try. Make sure to check with your insurance company first. Not all insurance companies will cover the treatment, which is expensive.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on January 14, 2015
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