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Hyaluronan Injections for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
hylan G-F 20 Synvisc
hyaluronate Euflexxa, Hyalgan, Orthovisc, Supartz

How It Works

Hyaluronan is a substance that doctors inject directly into your knee joint, where it may help supplement the knee joint's natural synovial fluid, relieving pain and improving your ability to use the knee. This treatment is also called viscosupplementation.

After an injection, some people may experience pain or swelling.

Why It Is Used

Doctors use hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) to treat osteoarthritis of the knee that has not improved with other treatment (such as acetaminophen and physical therapy).

How Well It Works

Results of some studies have shown that hyaluronan injections have improved the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint function in some people. But a large analysis of many trials shows that any benefit from these injections is very small.1 Hylan may have more risk of increased symptoms or fluid in the joint after injection, and it does not appear to work better than other hyaluronan products.2

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Swelling in the joint.
  • Temporary increase in pain.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to birds, feathers, or egg products.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Rutjes AWS, et al. (2012). Viscosupplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 157(3): 180–191.
  2. Reichenbach S, et al (2007). Hylan versus hyaluronic acid for osteoarthritis of the knee: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 57(9): 1410–1418.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Kenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
Last Revised April 8, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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