Do hyaluronic acid injections help to rebuild joints (kneecaps in this case), and how long does it last?

Do hyaluronic acid injections help to rebuild joints (kneecaps in this case), and how long does it last?

Osteoarthritic joints usually have a lower concentration of hyaluronic acid in their joint fluid than healthy joints. This means less protection against joint friction and impact. The FDA has approved the use of hyaluronic acid injections for knee osteoarthritis but also states it should only be used after treatments such as physiotherapy and pain medications have been tried and failed. Research on hyaluronic injections indicates that they may have multiple effects on the joint; including reduced inflammation, reduction in friction, slowing the degeneration of cartilage, and improvement in pain experienced.

Hyaluronic acid acts like a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints improving their ability to function properly. In some patients it appears that hyaluronic acid molecules surround nerve endings, preventing pain signals from being sent to the brain. In terms of rebuilding a joint these injections may aid the growth and protection of cartilage by stimulating chondrocytes which are the cells responsible for cartilage production. They could also increase strength of existing cartilage by producing proteins and carbohydrates which help the cartilage tissue to withstand compressional forces.

Depending on the brand used patients may require 1-5 injections. The results from these injections vary. Pain relief is not immediate and usually occurs around 4 weeks after receiving the injection. The duration of relief is around 2-6 months but additional injections may provide longer periods of relief of up to 3 years if patients show initial improvements.

 

Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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