What are hyaluronan injections?
If you have arthritis, injections of hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan injections, can be used to keep joints moving and reduce pain.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural part of synovial fluid, which is found inside many joints in the body. Synovial fluid helps keep our joints healthy and moving freely.
Hyaluronan injections can be used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee, but only after other treatments have failed.
NICE, the organisation that provides guidance and advice on treatments for different conditions in the UK, doesn’t currently recommend the use of hyaluronan injections for osteoarthritis. It suggests that while they may reduce pain over six months, the injections may cause short-term inflammation in the knee.
However, some doctors don’t agree with the grounds of this guidance and continue to legally prescribe hyaluronan injections. You may want to discuss if this is an option for you with the person treating you, as different NHS areas may have different policies.
Hyaluronan injections are available at private clinics around the UK, where you pay for the treatment yourself.
How are they taken?
You will probably be given one injection into the affected joint once a week, usually for three to four weeks.
In the two days after the injection, you should avoid any strenuous weight-bearing activity or standing for long periods of time.
You might not notice the effect of the injections straight away, but once they start working any benefits will probably last a few months.
Side effects and risks
Hyaluronan injections have very few side effects, although some people might have temporary pain and swelling in their joint after the injection. There’s also a small risk of infection.
If you notice any unusual symptoms after the injection, get in touch with the person treating you.
Effects on other treatments
You might not be able to have hyaluronan injections if you have a condition affecting how your blood clots or if you have an infection close to the affected joint. Speak to the person treating you for more advice on this.
Before you have hyaluronan injections, you should tell the person treating you what other medications you are taking. Tell anyone else who is treating you that you’ve had hyaluronan injections recently.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s not known whether hyaluronan injections affect an unborn baby, so you should get advice from your doctor about this if you plan on having these injections during pregnancy.
It’s also important to discuss breastfeeding with the person treating you, as we don’t know if hyaluronan injections can pass into breast milk.