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Risks outweigh benefits in viscosupplementation for knee osteoarthritis, study finds

A study published today by Arthritis Society researcher, Dr. Bruno da Costa, in the prestigious The BMJ has concluded the risks of viscosupplementation for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis outweigh its benefits. 

Viscosupplementation – also called hyaluronan injections – refers to the injection of a clear, gel-like material called hyaluronate into the knee to lubricate the joint, reduce pain and allow for greater movement.  

In a review of 169 large randomized clinical trials involving this treatment, da Costa, from St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, concluded that viscosupplementation, when compared to a placebo, has a “clinically irrelevant” reduction in pain but an increased risk of serious side effects.   

Says Dr. Sian Bevan, Chief Science Officer at the Arthritis Society, “Viscosupplementation is one of many injection treatments for knee osteoarthritis, but until today, its risks and benefits were not fully clear. This thorough analysis of the past studies from around the world provides a definitive recommendation that viscosupplementation should not be broadly used. 

“While this is disappointing news for people living with the fire of arthritis, it points to the importance of research in helping us uncover the solutions that will work. People with arthritis, living in pain, need answers and need relief.” 

The Arthritis Society is proud to have helped fund this study. We are currently investing close to $1.6 million in 23 research projects aimed at addressing the relentless pain of arthritis. We invested a total of $5.3 million last year in 98 projects aimed at fighting the fire of all forms of arthritis.   

Read more about this study about viscosupplementation published in The BMJ

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