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Injectable hyaluronic acid. This form of therapy, known as "visco-supplementation," involves the injection of hyaluronic acid into the joint once a week for 3 - 5 weeks, depending on the product brand.

  • Hyaluronic acid is a lubricating substance that is found in the normal joint fluid. If, as in osteoarthritis of the knee, inflammation breaks down hyaluronic acid within the joint, then lubrication is lost.
  • Hyaluronic acid injection does not cause the side effects of most oral pain relievers. Therefore it is suitable for people who still suffer discomfort after being treated by pain medication, exercise, or physical therapy.
  • Hyaluronic acid injection may provide relief for up to 12 months, but there is no indication that the treatment alters the progression of arthritis.
  • Ongoing studies are investigating whether this method is effective for the shoulders and hips, but, to date, there is little information on the long-term effects of hyaluronic acid injection.
  • In general, the treatment is well tolerated, and allergic reactions are rare.

Review Date: 12/24/2012

Reviewed By: Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, NYU Langone Medical Center. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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