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Hyaluronic acid injections proven to help knee osteoarthritis pain

Published on 19 September 2013
Hyaluronic acid injections proven to help knee osteoarthritis pain

The benefits of intra-articular hyaluronic acid (HA) injections as a treatment for painful knee osteoarthritis have been underlined by a new study carried out in the US.

A meta-analysis of 29 randomised studies involving more than 4,500 patients has been published in the journal Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, showing that HA injections can offer significant improvement in pain and function compared to saline injections.

By assessing results from peer-reviewed studies of six HA injection brands, the researchers were able to establish that these treatments were able to deliver improvement of around 50 per cent in pain and function from baseline, with no serious safety effects being observed.

Although the scientists said that more research needs to be done in this field to confirm these findings, they suggest that HA injections can be crucial in providing relief to people with mild to moderate forms of this debilitating disease.

Dr Mark Snyder, an orthopaedic surgeon from the TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, said: "Studies such as this are critical in helping physicians and patients make informed decisions. Currently, there are limited treatment options available to healthy people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Access to HA treatments is a great option for those who are seeking help in staying active."

Advancing age, previous joint traumas or misalignment and basic genetic predisposition can all contribute to a person's risk of experiencing osteoarthritis, an incurable and progressive disease that affects the knee more often than any other joint.

There is therefore strong demand for new therapies that can help with the management of pain and the maintenance of physical function.

A spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK commented: "There are very differing views within the medical community about the effectiveness of  hyaluronic acid for osteoarthritis of the knee, with advocates both for and against.

"Current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) state that they are not sufficiently cost-effective to be prescribed, yet some GPs find their patients get great benefit.

"There is certainly a great need for effective, side-effect-free pain relief for the millions of people with osteoarthritis, and it's a treatment gap we are trying hard to fill."

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