Osteoarthritis, a common problem in the knees, is a form of arthritis where one or more joints undergo tissue change. A key problem involved in in these type of joint problems is the loss of a special salt called hyaluronan within the fluid that moisturizes the area. This fluid is called synovial fluid. Hyaluronan supplementation injections are being given to humans since 1987, after the therapy was proved beneficial in racehorses with injured knees. The American College of Rheumatology recommends intra-articular injections of hyaluronan for the treatment of pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. This is an alternative treatment to oral pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Now, a new study by researchers from the University of Miami School of Medicine evaluated hyaluronan supplementation therapy for osteoarthritis.
The researchers found that the available literature on hyaluronan supplementation supports its clinical effectiveness and safety. However, they added that there are a number of different hyaluronan products on the market and each of these is made differently in regard to mode of production, molecular weight, concentration and treatment regimen. Therefore, they cautioned clinicians to look at the evidence supporting the use of a given product before they use it. The study also revealed that the therapy may actually help with the disease and not just the symptoms as certain hyaluronan products have structure modifying activity. Another group of researchers have shown that hyaluronan supplementation may also be effective in other areas of the body, not just the knees. However, more well-controlled clinical studies are needed to establish this benefit.