The uses of Hyaluronic Acid for joint pain
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that occurs naturally in our bodies, particularly in our eyes and joints where lubrication is important. Hyaluronan molecules have a great affinity for moisture and are able to bind well with fluid – as such it is an important lubricating substance used throughout the body. In our joints it is a component of synovial fluid which we secrete in our joints to allow the bones to glide smoothly over each other and to provide shock absorption.
Unfortunately as we get older our ability to produce hyaluronic acid diminishes and so there begins a wearing down of the joint surfaces, dry eyes and dehydration of the skin. Hyaluronic acid used in serums and injections can be synthesised from bacteria but is also found in rooster combs and can be extracted from egg shells. Foods considered to be rich in hyaluronic acid include root vegetables, bone stock, citrus fruits and leafy greens.
Esthetical uses of hyaluronic acid are mostly as fillers, due to it´s ability to bind with fluid, hyaluronic injections used subcutaneously can plump up the skin.
Medical uses of hyaluronic acid include the treatment of tendinopathy and wear and tear of the joints such as occurs in arthritis most commonly in the hips and knees. Tendinopathy is a disease of the tendon caused by overuse. Tendons transmit the power of the muscles onto the bones causing a strong leverage force. Prolonged activity, repeated movements or incorrect loadbearing can all lead to irritation and inflammation. The tendons lose their ability to glide smoothly over structures and through their sheathes which causes pain.
Initially physiotherapy and electrotherapy would usually be the treatment of choice for both the tendinopathy and joint arthritis however it has been shown that there may be faster improvement when combined with hyaluronic injections. The viscoelastic properties of hyaluronic acid serve to improve gliding of tendons and opposing boney joint ends acting as a spacer between moving parts and so preventing friction and improving shock absorption.
The response time for pain relief using hyaluronic acid can vary between individuals. Pain relief is not immediate as might be expected from a cortisone injection. They generally start working within 2 to 4 weeks reaching it’s peak at 2 months. With some patients the injections may need to be repeated before the benefit is felt.
Joint pain relief with hyaluronic acid is often requested by the Physiotherapist via Orthopaedic or Rheumatology Consultant.
MCSP SRP COFIB Col 220 Physiotherapist
The Physiotherapy Centre
+34 609 353 805
+34 971 405 769