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Hyaluronic Acid – WD40 for your joints

Sep 24, 2016 | MSK Medicine, Non Sporting Injuries, Sports Injury Treatments

At home rather than at Old Trafford this time

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative problem of joints. Whilst a combination of professionally advised strengthening exercises  and weight loss to reduce the force the diseased joint has to endure is certainly beneficial to most patients some patients will still require further medical treatments.

Simple analgesia can be very useful to ease the pain associated with the disease of osteoarthritis and enable strengthening and mobility exercises to be undertaken. Other patients may still however require further interventions, most commonly steroid injections into the diseased joint.

A further form of injection available privately at Sports Medicine NE are referred to as “hyaluronic acid injections”. This intervention consists of an injection of  a chemical called sodium hyaluronate directly  into the joint. I became interested in the use of hyaluronic acid injections over a decade ago whilst working as a Premier League Football doctor. A number of players signed by the club following time playing in Europe where they had previously used hyaluronic acid injections successfully to relieve their joint pain and improve mobility. I started using them shortly after with excellent results and I am very pleased to now be able to offer them to non-elite and non-sporting patients with similar results.

Sodium Hyaluronate is a naturally occurring chemical within synovial fluid, of a normal joint. Synovial fluid has many functions within the joint including providing nutrients to the cartilage, acting as a lubricant for movement of the joint and as a shock absorber for the worn joint. As the joint becomes worn, as occurs with osteoarthritis the concentration of sodium hyaluronate within the fluid decrease resulting in a diluted concentration remaining which is less successful in acting as a shock absorber or lubricant to the already worn joint.

Hyaluronic acid injections increase the concentration of sodium hyaluronate within the synovial fluid reducing inflammation and therefore pain along with improved mobility of the joint.

Over the last 10 years these forms of injections have evolved enabling one single injection to be used giving benefit for on average 9 months compared to 3 separate injections as in the past to provide benefit for the same time period. Steroid injections are still commonly and successfully to help control and manage knee pain problems but all doctors have concerns about using steroid injections on a regular basis as steroid itself has possible complications associated with them.  Medical evidence by Leopold et al published in the Journal of bone and Joint Surgery America in 2003 found hyaluronic acid injections  to be “as good as steroid” in reducing pain and improving function of the knee.  A more recent paper by Newberry et al in 2015 agreed that they also found hyaluronic acid injections to be useful in improving the function of a severely worn knee. The International Osteoarthritis Research Society stated that “hyaluronic acid injections aren’t a magic pill but have a definite role in treating osteoarthritis of the knee”.

Patients treated at Sports Medicine NE have experienced similar good and helpful results from hyaluronic acid injections administered by Dr Rae in both reducing pain and allowing them to continue the activity they desire.

“Consulting Dr Rae at Sports Medicine NE was one of the best decisions I’ve made. When my knee pain threatened to stop me doing the things I enjoy I knew it was time to find a solution. A thorough examination and in-depth discussion of treatment options really made me feel that a solution was possible. I had the treatment (Ostenil plus) and have been delighted with the results and I know that Dr Rae will provide continuing support should I need it.”

Ann Howe  Retired

“A consultation with Dr Rae allowed us to establish what I wanted an Ostenil injection for, that is, so I can put off ankle surgery for advanced osteoarthritis and continue to participate in sports I enjoy. Dr Rae used ultrasound to carefully assess the best site for the Ostenil Plus injection into my ankle. It wasn’t completely pain free but it was OK. I have had little ankle pain since the injection and will certainly return to Dr Rae for further Ostenil treatment.”

Sally Welsh  Lecturer

Book a consultation with Dr Rae for assessment of your problem and further discussion of treatment options available to you.

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Dr Glen Rae

Member of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (UK) British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine (BASEM) UK Association Doctors in Sport (UKADIS) MBChB, MRCGP, MScSEM, MFSEM(UK), PG Cert MSK USS