Hyaluronic acid (HA) is used to treat osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease. It is most commonly used for OA knee.
HA is found naturally in joints and other parts of the body. In the joint, it is found in the cartilage and the synovial fluid that help to lubricate and cushion the joint during movement.
In people with OA, the synovial fluid breaks down and becomes thinner and it is no longer able to protect the joint. Injections of artificial HA into affected joints help improve the synovial fluid, thereby reducing the pain of OA.
HA injections are indicated to people with pain due to OA knee (can also be use in OA ankle and shoulder) if other treatments have failed (simple painkiller, or from exercise and physical therapy).
What is the benefit of HA injection?
HA injections help to reduce the pain caused by OA and improve joint mobility. Some patients find relief from symptoms within a few days. Full benefits usually are reached 3 – 5 weeks after the treatment.
The treatment may provide pain relief for 6 to 12 months. However, response might not be the same from one patient to another.
How is HA given?
HA is directly injected into the joint. Injections may be given once a week for 3 or 5 weeks, or just a single injections, depending on the particular product that recommended by doctor.
Can I take other medicine with HA injections?
Yes. HA may be used with other arthritis medicines including:
- Simple pain medicines e.g. paracetamol
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) eg. Ibuprofen, Celecoxib, Etoricoxib
- Cortisosteroid injections into the joint
What are the side effects?
Side effects from HA injections are not common and usually minimal.
Most common possible side effects:
- Local side effects may include: pain and redness of the injection site, increased joint swelling, warmth or stiffness that usually resolved after 24 – 48 hours
Less common or rare possible side effects:
- Allergic reaction
- Severe inflammation of the joint
- Others eg. headache, muscle pain, nausea, flu-like symptoms
What other necessary precautions?
- Avoid strenuous activity e.g. jogging, badminton or heavy lifting for at least 48 hours after receiving an injection
- HA injections will not be given if you have infection of your joint or surrounding skin, circulatory problem or history of prior allergy to HA-based products
- Please inform if you are allergic to products from birds eg. feathers, eggs and poultry
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