Hyaluronic acid injection is used to treat knee pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA) in patients who have already been treated with pain relievers (e.g., acetaminophen) and other treatments that did not work well. Hyaluronic acid is similar to a substance that occurs naturally in the joints.
Your body makes hyaluronic acid. It’s a natural part of the fluid that helps lubricate and cushion your joints and keeps them working smoothly.
When you have osteoarthritis (OA), the hyaluronic acid in the affected joint thins. Hyaluronic acid injections add to your body’s natural supply. You may hear your doctor refer to these injections as “viscosupplementation,” which literally means they help the fluid in your joints.
Should You Try Hyaluronic Acid Injections?
Doctors can’t predict who will benefit from hyaluronic acid injections. But many doctors give them to people with knee OA whose symptoms don’t get better with painkillers or non-drug treatments such as heat or ice.
Hyaluronic injections are also often tried by people who can’t take painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) or can’t have (or aren’t ready for) total knee replacement surgery.
How Effective Are Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Osteoarthritis?
Studies show hyaluronic acid injections may work better than painkillers for some people with OA. Other studies have shown they also may work as well as corticosteroid knee injections.
Hyaluronic acid injections seem to work better in some people than others. They may be less effective in older adults and people with severe OA.