Hyaluronic Acid gel – a natural treatment for arthritic joints

What is Hyaluronic Acid and what does it do?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is an important component of joint fluid and cartilage and it can be injected in the form of a gel to provide a minimally invasive and drug free means of directly improving the function of damaged or arthritic joints.  Hyaluronic acid provides cartilage with many of its shock absorbing properties and increases the lubricant qualities of the joint fluid (known as ‘synovial fluid’).  

In damaged or arthritic joints, the amount and quality of HA decreases and this significantly increases the amount of stiffness and pain.  By injecting HA gel directly into the joint, levels of HA are increased providing increased lubrication (known as ‘viscosupplementation’) and reducing pain associated with joint movement.  The hyaluronic acid also coats damaged areas of cartilage and provides nutrition to these areas to help the body repair the affected tissues.

How long does it last?

A single injection of Hyaluronic acid is often sufficient to provide lasting relief of symptoms – varying from 3-6 months and even longer in some cases.  The injections may be repeated as often as required to maintain the effect – even every month or two if necessary.  

In some severe cases, we may recommend giving a course of several injections i.e. one injection every two weeks on three occasions.

Can Hyaluronic Acid be used alongside other treatments?

HA can be used on its on or in conjunction with other regenerative medicines such as stem cell therapy, K-laser therapy, PRP and Cartrophen.  Cartrophen works well alongside the HA injections by slowing the degradation of HA within the joint and directly stimulating production of HA by the joint itself.  K-laser therapy helps to maximise utilisation of the injected HA by stimulating repair mechanisms within the damaged cartilage and ligaments and also by reducing inflammation (which is itself corrosive to cartilage).

HA gel can also be used alongside more conventional anti-inflammatories and pain-killers as well.

Are there any side effects?

As HA is a naturally occurring joint substance, there should not be any side effects at all.  With any injection into a joint there is always a small risk of infection entering through the needle hole but this is rare.

How is HA gel administered?

HA gel is injected directly into the joint under a light anaesthetic or deep sedation.  With modern techniques there is very little risk associated with this.

What is the recovery period following the injections?

We usually recommend a 7 day period of rest following the injections (maximum 5-10 mins twice daily on the lead avoiding any wet or dirty areas) and then 7 days of steady exercise.  This can be up to 30 minutes twice daily but should not involve forced or sudden exercise such as chasing balls (or cats, squirrels etc!).  If in doubt they should remain on the lead for this period as well.

What is the typical cost of treatment?

HA gel injections start at £200-250 including sedation/GA as required – please ask us for more information.

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