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Hyaluronan gel is a medication that is used primarily to treat knee pain from osteoarthritis. It typically is prescribed when other drugs have not been able to manage the pain from this and other conditions. The drug can be administered as an injection or oral gel. It frequently is used after knee surgery.
The drug works by increasing the ability of knee fluid to absorb shock. It is a derivative of hyaluronic acid, a viscous fluid that increases lubrication in the area. In essence, it prevents the grinding of joints that causes pain.
In most cases, hyaluronan gel is injected into the joint by a doctor in a medical facility. It is meant to be a temporary treatment that is taken about three or four times in one-week intervals. Patients typically are advised to avoid heavy physical exertion for a couple of days after treatment, because of potential inflammation and overall weakness.
A patient typically will receive extensive instructions for proper handling if the drug is to be administered at home. Some of the things that can indicate a problem with a dose include discoloration or particles in the medication. Any damage to the vial holding the drug can also be problematic. A doctor or pharmacist usually will give the patient information about how to properly dispose of needles, syringes and other items that might be needed to administer the drug.
There are some conditions that might make taking hyaluronan gel more risky — or at least require closer observation by the prescribing doctor. Allergies to anything related to birds, including eggs, meat and feathers, can be problematic. This is because eggs are used to process the medication. Pregnant or nursing women usually are advised not to take the drug. Skin diseases or infections in the affected area might also increase the risk of taking hyaluronan gel.
The most common side effects of hyaluronan gel typically are not serious and need to be discussed with a doctor only if they become severe or do not eventually subside. They include injection site pain, swelling and minor bruising. A patient might also temporarily have knee inflammation or feel achy. Redness and heat at the site of injection have been reported as well.
Severe side effects of hyaluronan gel must receive immediate medical attention. They include common signs of an allergic reaction, such as a tight chest, hives, rash or breathing problems. Some patients also might experience swelling in the areas from the neck up.
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