Hyaluronic Acid Supplements For Knee Pain | Best Forms, Pros & Cons, And More!

Written By on May 23, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mich Torres (PT)

Taking hyaluronic acid supplements for knee pain may be beneficial, but in certain joint conditions.

See, hyaluronic acid is a type of carbohydrate present in our tissues. It’s also within our joints, keeping them lubricated. But, its levels decline as we age, which can ultimately contribute to knee pain.

However, studies show that taking it as a supplement may counteract this. We’ll discuss all about it below. Here are the topics we cover – tap on any of them to go to its section:

Hyaluronic acid supplementation and knee pain

Hyaluronic acid is a natural polysaccharide – a type of carbohydrate – that acts as a natural shock absorber. It’s a major component of the synovial fluid that lubricates our joints.

Now, taking it as a supplement has shown to provide several benefits, such as (1):

  • Knee pain relief.
  • Improved joint function.
  • Reduction in stiffness.

However, the extent to which it can provide these benefits really depends on the form of hyaluronic acid used.

Forms of hyaluronic acid for knee pain

There are mainly two forms that may help knee pain – oral supplements and intra-articular injections (1, 2):

Hyaluronic acid injections – Best for moderate to severe pain

This is the next line of treatment for people with mild to moderate knee pain that’s not responding to painkillers. (3)

Studies report improvements in knee osteoarthritis symptoms beginning from 4 weeks after the first injection. This gradually increases over the next few weeks until it plateaus. Booster doses are usually given every 6 to 12 months. (1)

A prescription is essential for getting a hyaluronic acid injection. Also, you need a medical evaluation first before getting it. This will ensure you get the right treatment for your knee osteoarthritis.

Pros of injections

Receiving intra-articular hyaluronic acid into the knee joint (4, 5, 6):

  • Can provide relief from knee pain more effectively than NSAIDs or placebos.
  • Has a lower risk of side effects than painkillers.
  • Requires only one dosage every 6 to 12 months.
  • Provides lasting relief from osteoarthritis symptoms.

Cons of injections

However (4, 5, 6):

  • They can’t be used by those with allergies to hyaluronic acid.
  • May cause pain at the site of injection.
  • Requires a visit to the clinic, as it can’t be self-administered.
  • Needs a prescription, as professional medical advice is required first.

Dosage of injections

Hyaluronic acid injections can range from 0.5 to 6 ml, and even the concentration per ml of injection can vary from 0.8 to 30 mg/ml. (1)

The amount should be determined by your doctor, according to your symptoms, health status, and other factors.

Oral hyaluronic acid supplements – Best for mild knee pain

Taking it orally may help some people. But some studies show that taking supplements of hyaluronic acid while on the injection treatment can in fact prolong the effects of the second. (2)

They come in the form of tablets, soft gel, or capsules. Some also come in combination forms, like glucosamine chondroitin.

Pros of oral hyaluronan

  • Oral forms have a lower risk of allergic reactions, so they can be taken by those who are allergic to the injections.
  • Don’t require a prescription.
  • Are easily available online or in pharmacies.
  • Can be self-administered.
  • May prolong the benefits of hyaluronic acid injections.

Cons of oral intake

  • Increased risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Requires daily supplementation.
  • Fewer studies have confirmed the benefits of oral supplementation in contrast to its injection form.

Dosage of oral supplements

A 12-month study found that taking 200 mg per day of hyaluronic acid supplements provided better control over knee pain than a placebo. (7)

Other clinical studies that used 80 to 240 mg per day for 8 to 12 weeks also found similar improvements. (7)

So, based on this data, the ideal dosage for knee pain relief may be around 80 to 240 mg per day. (7, 8)

However, as with all dietary supplements, start with the minimal dose and build up from there. This will reduce your risk of adverse effects.

Hyaluronic acid serums

Hyaluronic acids also come in the form of serums, but their application is limited to the skin. Topical serums don’t help knee pain, they are best for cosmetic uses.

Hyaluronic acid fillers

Like serums, hyaluronic acid fillers have no use in treatments of knee joint pain. They are used as fillers to manage wrinkles, eye bags, crow’s feet, and other cosmetic issues.

Side effects and risks of hyaluronic acid

Multiple long-term studies on both oral and injectable forms of hyaluronic acid have found it to be safe and effective for treating knee problems. (1, 4, 5, 6)

However, some minor side effects can occur following hyaluronic acid injections. Like pain, redness, and bruising on the area.

In the oral form, adverse effects are mainly limited to stomach upset and gastrointestinal distress.

Other treatments for knee pain

For knee osteoarthritis, there is a protocol to follow for managing symptoms with drugs (3):

  • The first-line medical treatment is paracetamol.
  • If symptoms are not relieved, the next step is NSAIDs.
  • If symptoms persist, then a hyaluronic acid injection is usually recommended.
  • The last resort for knee pain management is knee replacement surgery.

While following this protocol, the patient should do other treatments for knee osteoarthritis as well, like physical therapy, weight loss, or strengthening.

Other supplements for knee pain

Hyaluronic acid is one of many supplements that may help knee pain, such as:

This will help: Best dietary supplements for managing knee pain.

FAQs

Is hyaluronic acid good for the knees?

Yes – Hyaluronic acid, either as injections or oral supplements, can provide relief from knee joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Can hyaluronic acid cause joint pain?

This could happen at the site of injection, but there are no reports of hyaluronic acid itself causing knee pain.

What is hyaluronic acid for knees?

For joint health, hyaluronic acid works as a lubricant and shock absorber. It can treat pain in obese knee osteoarthritis patients and other people suffering from this disease.

Conclusion: Do hyaluronic acid supplements help knee pain?

Hyaluronic acid is widely used as both injection or oral supplement to treat knee joint pain. Injectable forms are often prescribed by orthopedic doctors to treat conditions like knee OA.

Oral supplements of hyaluronic acids have also been found to be beneficial in reducing joint pain. In fact, combining them with the injectable form can extend the benefits of the injection.

The recommended dosage in oral form is between 80 to 240 mg per day. Studies have shown that taking oral hyaluronic acid supplements for as little as 8 weeks can help provide relief from knee joint pain. (7, 8)

Resources

  1. Bowman, Steven et al. “Recent advances in hyaluronic acid-based therapy for osteoarthritis.” Clinical and translational medicine vol. 7,1 6. 16 Feb. 2018.
  2. Burdick, Jason A., and Glenn D. Prestwich. “Hyaluronic acid hydrogels for biomedical applications.” Advanced materials 23.12 (2011): H41-H56.
  3. Zhang, Wei, et al. “Emerging trend in the pharmacotherapy of osteoarthritis.” Frontiers in Endocrinology 10 (2019): 431.
  4. Bannuru, Raveendhara R., et al. “Relative efficacy of hyaluronic acid in comparison with NSAIDs for knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism. Vol. 43. No. 5. WB Saunders, 2014.
  5. Miller, Larry E et al. “Hyaluronic Acid Injections or Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Knee Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials.” Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine vol. 8,1 2325967119897909. 27 Jan. 2020.
  6. Nguyen, Christelle, and François Rannou. “The safety of intra-articular injections for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a critical narrative review.” Expert opinion on drug safety 16.8 (2017): 897-902.
  7. Tashiro, Toshiyuki, et al. “Oral administration of polymer hyaluronic acid alleviates symptoms of knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study over a 12-month period.” The Scientific World Journal 2012 (2012).
  8. Kalman, Douglas S., et al. “Effect of a natural extract of chicken combs with a high content of hyaluronic acid (Hyal-Joint®) on pain relief and quality of life in subjects with knee osteoarthritis: a pilot randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.”Nutrition journal 7.1 (2008): 1-9.

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Author
Sony Sherpa (MD)
Sony Sherpa is a board-certified clinical doctor and currently, she is working as a medical officer in the emergency department of a renowned hospital. With a medical degree completed at a young age, she writes medical articles with accuracy owing to her medical knowledge and thorough background research.

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