Arthritis of the knee is incredibly painful and liquid injections have long been thought to help the condition. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds that the benefits of these injections are actually minimal, if they help at all.
Fox News reports that those with knee arthritis often receive injections of hyaluronic acid, a lubricating substance, a naturally occurring substance in our joints that acts as a shock absorber and lubricant. People who have osteoarthritis, which is the most common “wear and tear” type of the disease, appear to have lower levels.
The therapy, known as viscosupplementation, has been approved in the U.S. since 1997 for knee arthritis only, and has been approved in Europe for longer and for more kinds of arthritis. For the study, Reuters reports that the scientists looked at 89 past clinical trials, finding that overall viscosupplementation did seem to help relieve pain when compared to “sham” injections of no treatment at all.
When they focused on 18 larger trials, however, which included at least 200 patients, where were only “clinically irrelevant” effects, according to the researchers. Dr. Peter Juni from the University of Bern in Switzerland, who worked on the study, stated:
“We don’t have evidence that viscosupplementation works, but it is associated with an increased risk of adverse events.”
Reuters reports that on top of that, the injections can also carry side effects, such as swelling and inflammation in the joint soon after treatment, which essentially defeats the purpose, according to Fox News. Therefore, Juni told Reuters that he and his colleagues recommend that the injections should be discouraged for those with knee arthritis.