Hyaluron (also called hyaluronic acid or hyaluronate) is a natural biochemical substance, widely present in connective, epithelial, and neural tissue. It is also an important part of sinovial fluid (fluid that lubricates joints), and it enhances its viscosity. It’s also a vital part of joint cartilage, as a capsule around every cartilage cell (chondrocyte). Hyaluron is an important part of skin, helping with damaged tissue repair. In complex biochemical body structures, especially in joints, it helps with many other processes. All this data is familiar to us from the studies conducted in the 70s and 80s, but only in the last decade did hyaluron spread to medicinal and cosmetic area and is now present in use almost everywhere. Its initial usage was in eye surgeries. Later it was used in wrinkle removers, only to be implemented in virtually every cream these days. The term „viscosupplementation“ was coined, denoting injecting the hyaluron product directly into the joint in order to replace its defficiency, especially with arthrosis. This way the degenerative arthritis symptoms can be removed or diminished.
So, the idea is simple. As the cartilage in arthritic joints „wears itself out“, and the sinovial liquid has a lessened ability to lubricate the joints, we should inject the hyaluron directly into the joint, making the sinovial fluid more effective, which would lead to diminished pain and swelling, along with mobility enhancement. There are two problems present here. The first one is the fact that hyaluronic acid stays in the joint only for a few days or hours after the injection, and we want it to last a lot longer. So does it? It all depends on the study you choose to read. Some studies say there’s no significant difference from the patients who did not receive these injections (specifically, they wew injected with the placebo: water), and others claim there is. Most of these studies end with the conclusion that „we need to do more research in order to precisely establish the efficacy of this product in dealing with osteoarthritis“.
The therapy itself consists of a weekly injection, lasting for 3-5 weeks (depending on the brand and the supplier), which does not exclude the usage of other drugs nor physical therapy or kinesiotherapy (exercises). There is no danger in application of this product. Side effects are extremely rare and usually pass after a few days. So, the decision about the treatment is in the hands of the doctor specialist and the patient. But it must be specified that hyaluronic acid does not lead to cartilage regeneration, nor has any spectacular effect on degeneration, unfortunately. It can only be helpful in a treatment based on keeping the damaged joints mobile, keeping up the strength, and holding the symptoms under control, especially pain.