does not advocate for widespread use of viscosupplementation to treat knee osteoarthritissummarize the authors of the study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Knee osteoarthritis is one of the most common rheumatisms. People who suffer from it experience deterioration of the cartilage of the knee joint, which leads to pain and difficulty in everyday life, especially in walking.
According to a report made in 2020, cited by the authors of the study, it affects more than 500 million people worldwide. Statistics Canada data shows that of the 37% of Canadians aged 20 and older who have been diagnosed with arthritis, 29% had knee pain.
For several decades, one of the main treatments has been to inject hyaluronic acid – a gelatinous substance that promotes good lubrication – into painful joints.
But the real effectiveness of this treatment, which is called viscosupplementation, is increasingly questioned. In France, Social Security stopped reimbursement a few years ago, despite opposition from specialists in these procedures, laboratories producing hyaluronic acid and patient associations.
Serious side effects
The study of BMJgoes in this direction. This is a meta-analysis, which compiles a certain number of previous works – here several dozen – and therefore gives a good idea of the state of knowledge.
The authors admit that viscosupplementation contributes to
a small decrease in pain related to osteoarthritis of the kneebut the effect is too small to consider that it has clinical benefits, especially since it is not without danger.
Viscosupplementation is associated with a higher frequency of serious side effects, when compared to placebonote the authors.
The latter, even if they cannot exclude a possible benefit of viscosupplementation for specific categories of patients, therefore call for it to no longer be a systematic treatment in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.