In the world of arthritis, new treatments have emerged that can improve mobility and restore quality of life to a great extent. One such treatment that is currently available is hyaluronic acid injections. Hyaluronic acid injections have been administered in aesthetic medicine as a part of dermal filler procedures. However, their clinical application has extended the orthopaedic practice and rheumatology as well. Here we take a look at this aspect in a little more detail.
What are Hyaluronic Acid Injections?
As the name suggests, hyaluronic acid injections are injections of a natural component that is present in the synovial fluid. Synovial fluid refers to the fluid that is present around the joint that allows lubrication of the joint and free movement. Hyaluronic acid is a natural compound that has not been made commercially available for the purposes of joint injection.
When is Hyaluronic Acid Injected into a Joint?
One of the most common indications for injecting hyaluronic acid into the joint is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition where the cartilage and surrounding tissues in a joint become aged and diseased. Osteoarthritis often affects the knee joint but can also affect other joints, and hyaluronic acid can be injected in these joints.
How is hyaluronic acid injected into a joint?
After administering local anesthesia, the doctor will inject hyaluronic acid directly into the affected joint. Sometimes, ultrasound guidance may be used to aid this, though often this is not required.
Patients are often given 3 to 6 injections over a period of 1 to 3 weeks. They will notice a difference in their symptoms within a few days of the final injection in the series, and the effects can last for a period of a few months. Repeat injections may be required in the future.
What are the Side effects of Hyaluronic Acid Injections?
As hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the joints, it is a rare for patients to experience side effects. Allergic responses have been known to develop and these can be treated quite easily with medication. Some patients may notice a small amount of swelling around the joint and pain at the site of injection which usually passes after a few days.
Are Hyaluronic Acid Injections effective?
There are mixed reviews among the medical professionals with regard to how effective hyaluronic acid injections are. Some studies have shown that they do not significantly improve joint pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis. However, conflicting studies have demonstrated benefit. As a patient, your doctor will make an expert decision regarding the actual benefit versus the risks before administering the injection.
Hyaluronic acid injections are injections of a natural compound that is seen within the joints. Clinical applications are primarily in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Mixed reviews currently exist regarding the benefit of the treatment.