Hyaluronic Acid Injection - Is It Effective?

hyaluronic acid injection knees effectiveness

Hyaluronic Acid Injections, which also go by the name of Hyaluronan, is a substance that is found naturally in the human body in the synovial joints. This viscoelastic substance performs the function of acting as a type of "shock absorber" for the joints and assists with dissipating energy after trauma. Hyaluronic Acid also helps to lubricate the joints which help to promote movement and assists with pain relief. 

Research has shown that Hyaluronic injections directly into the joints provide anti- inflammatory properties to the cells that surround the joints and prevent cells in the cartilage area from dying in patients with arthritis which helps to improve their day-to-day functions. 

Hyaluronic Acid Content And Osteoarthritis 

In various studies, it has been discovered that patients with Osteoarthritis have a lower molecular weight and concentration of Hyaluronic Acid present in their joints in something known as the "synovial fluid". Synovial fluid relies heavily on the Hyaluronic acid content to function, so a decrease in Hyaluronic Acid results in minimising the viscoelastic characteristics of this fluid which leads to joint degradation. Therefore the initial suggestion that Hyaluronic Acid injections into the knee by an Orthopedic specialist may be effective when it comes to restoring the protective and viscoelastic functions of synovial fluid present in the knee joints. 

Hyaluronic Acid injections are said to help by increasing lubrication in the joints and act as an effective shock absorber which allows patients to lower the overall pain levels in their knee joints. These injections are particularly recommended for patients that are already undergoing other treatments such as physical therapy and taking medications for pain such as Acetaminophen and have not experienced positive results. 

How Long Does A Hyaluronic Acid Knee Injection Last? 

The Hyaluronic Acid injections for the knee with a high molecular weight have been suggested to last for as long as a year. The injection can be taken safely every 6 months to 1 year to manage Osteoarthritis. However, the precise longevity relating to Hyaluronic Acid injections for the knee joint is still under investigation in meta-analysis and musculoskeletal systematic reviews. One of the more recent studies has shown that these injections appear to last for over 450 days in certain individuals, while in others, the injection lasted for over 1000 days. 

In another study that included 223 participants, the overall results were positive after taking the Hyaluronic Acid injection. The results indicated that the individuals in this study that were given an injection experienced reduced stiffness levels and pain when compared to others that had not received the injection. The conclusion of the study recommended that Hyaluronic Acid injection to the knee joint seemed to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate symptoms of knee arthritis for a minimum of 13 weeks after the injection was taken. 

Are There Side Effects Of Hyaluronic Acid Knee Injections? 

Side effects linked to Hyaluronic Acid Knee Injections are rare and just about always self- limiting and mild. The more common side effect usually includes mild irritation around the site of the injection or mild flare-ups in under 2% of individuals. This might include symptoms such as redness, swelling, and pain, which are easy to correct with anti- inflammatory medication, rest, and icing. To date, there have not been any reports of Hyaluronic Acid injections causing an infection of the joints in the clinical trials conducted to study and analyse the effects in individuals. Systematic side effects including muscle cramps, nausea, and myalgia are extremely rare and have only been reported in under 2% of participants in these clinical trials. 

What Are The Best Injections For The Knee? 

In general, experts suggest that Hyaluronic Acid injections with high molecular weights such as Hyalgan are regarded as the best approach since they last for a long time. This is probably because these injections are not only FDA-approved but also more cross-linked with higher viscosities which means they degrade a lot slower when compared to other Hyaluronan injection types which have lower molecular weights and are generally less cross-linked. 

What Is The Difference Between Cortisone And Hyaluronic Acid? 

Hyaluronic Acid injections and their effectiveness have been compared to a similar effectiveness that Cortisone injections produce. However, these injections are very different. Cortisone is one of the anti-inflammatory substances that doctors often prescribe for Osteoarthritis of the knee joint to improve inflammation, pain, and swelling. Even though there is some evidence that has shown that Cortisone injections could be effective for up to 3 months, they aren't effective for all cases. More importantly, unlike Intra Articular Hyaluronic Acid Injections (which are regarded as safe for re-injections), Cortisone injections might result in the loss of cartilage when re-injected. These injections can also promote joint degradation until such a stage that the person may require joint replacement by having to undergo complete knee-replacement surgery. 

One of the other differences between Hyaluronic Acid injections and Cortisone injections is that the effectiveness of Cortisone injections can be instant, but it can take as long as 4 weeks for Hyaluronic Acid injections to start showing effectiveness. However, this also usually means that the overall effectiveness of Hyaluronic Acid injections is typically much longer. 


Numerous studies have recently investigated and discussed Hyaluronic Acid Knee Injections, and most of them have concluded that these injections are effective when it comes to treating symptoms relating to mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. They seem to be the ideal solution for those that do not have significant inflammation and swelling of the knee joint since the injections do take some time to start showing results. 

For this reason, this is not recommended for those looking for a "quick fix". But for those that are prepared to wait, the longer-lasting results of Hyaluronic Acid Knee Injections may be the ideal option. These injections are also recommended for patients that have an allergic reaction to steroids or might not be able to use these types of injections due to one or more medical conditions. These injections do not involve any downtime, which means the patient can return home directly after taking the injection.

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