Knee Replacement Postponed By Knee Injections

4.1.1The American College of Rheumatology meeting in San Diego, California is the site of scientific presentations on arthritis affecting us all. Roy D. Altman, MD of the University of California Los Angeles, presented data saying that injections of hyaluronic acid into the knee provided sufficient pain relief to allow patients to postpone knee replacements by 2.6 years. The delay is extremely important because the knee prostheses only last about ten years before they need to be surgically revised. ““Knee replacement isn’t a cure all,” said Altman and “it’s important to delay total knee replacement as long as possible.”

Twenty-seven million Americans have osteoarthritis of the knee according to Altman. Those with severe pain and impairment use these hyaluronic acid injections to help restore intra-articular synovial fluid function and improve outcomes. No data was available until now to see its effect on knee replacement. Altman and associates looked at patient insurance company data bases of more than 7 million people. They identified 26,627 who were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and had undergone surgical knee replacement. 7000 had received at least one injection of hyaluronic acid and several had up to four injections. They then looked the length of time from diagnosis to surgery and compared it to individuals who did not have injections of hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid injections are used by local physicians to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis frequently. We now know it is both reducing pain and postponing significant surgery.