What Is Hyaluronan?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Hyaluronan is a medication prescribed for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This treatment, sometimes called viscosupplementation, is used for affected knee joints. It works like the natural synovial fluid in the joint to cushion it and provide lubrication to reduce pain and improve mobility. Patients will typically try other treatment methods first before using this drug.

Jogging can cause stress to the knees after a hyaluronate injection.
Jogging can cause stress to the knees after a hyaluronate injection.

This medicine is injected into the affected joint by a doctor or nurse. Patients will not typically inject it themselves at home. Sometimes, the doctor will need to aspirate, or withdraw, excess fluid from the joint before administering the injection. Patients may notice temporary swelling or pain at the injection site following each dosage. For the next 48 hours, they must avoid weight-bearing activities like jogging, any other strenuous activity, or prolonged standing.

Some patients with osteoarthritis receive hyaluronan injections.
Some patients with osteoarthritis receive hyaluronan injections.

Adults will usually receive a dosage of hyaluronan once per week for about three to four weeks. Patients may not notice the full benefit of the medicine until after the third injection. The dosages will vary, depending on each person's individual needs and their response to the treatment.

Hyaluronan may be given in the form of an injection for a knee with osteoarthritis.
Hyaluronan may be given in the form of an injection for a knee with osteoarthritis.

Some side effects may occur with the use of hyaluronan to treat osteoarthritis of the knee, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. In addition to temporary swelling and pain of the knee, a rash or minor bruising may occur at the injection site. Patients have also reported a general achy feeling, and headaches and warmth or redness at the knee may also occur.

An allergic reaction to hyaluronan may cause tightness in the chest and trouble breathing.
An allergic reaction to hyaluronan may cause tightness in the chest and trouble breathing.

More serious side effects require a doctor's urgent care. Patients receiving hyaluronan should go to the emergency room immediately if they experience a fever, a rapid or pounding heartbeat, or a severe headache. Back pain and tingling skin have also been reported. Some people may suffer an allergic reaction to hyaluronan, which may present with tightness in the chest, severe dizziness, and trouble breathing. Allergic reactions may also cause facial swelling, a rash, and itching.

There may be a rash or bruising of the knee after a hyaluronan injection.
There may be a rash or bruising of the knee after a hyaluronan injection.

Before using hyaluronan injections for osteoarthritis, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements to avoid a potential interaction. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss the potential risks with their doctors. Those with an allergy to any bird or egg products, including bird feathers, should avoid this injection. It is contraindicated for use by those with a skin disease or infection at the injection site. Patients should also inform the doctor if they have a history of joint infections or circulation problems.

Side effects of hyaluronan may include severe headache.
Side effects of hyaluronan may include severe headache.
Serious side effects of hyaluronan will require a trip to the emergency room.
Serious side effects of hyaluronan will require a trip to the emergency room.
Facial swelling may occur as a result of an allergic reaction.
Facial swelling may occur as a result of an allergic reaction.

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