Hyaluronan Injections for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

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Hyaluronan Injections for Osteoarthritis of the Knee


Generic NameBrand Name
hylan G-F 20Synvisc
hyaluronateNeoVisc, Orthovisc, Suplasyn,

How It Works

Hyaluronan is a substance that doctors inject directly into your knee joint, where it may help supplement the knee joint's natural synovial fluid, relieving pain and improving your ability to use the knee. This treatment is also called viscosupplementation.

After an injection, some people may experience pain or swelling.

Why It Is Used

Doctors use hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) to treat osteoarthritis of the knee that has not improved with other treatment (such as acetaminophen and physiotherapy).

How Well It Works

Results of some studies have shown that hyaluronan injections have improved the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint function in some people.1 Results in other studies suggest that if there is any benefit from these injections, it is very small.2 Hylan may have more risk of increased symptoms or fluid in the joint after injection, and it does not appear to work better than other hyaluronan products.3

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Swelling in the joint.
  • Temporary increase in pain.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to birds, feathers, or egg products.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Wang CT, et al. (2004). Therapeutic effects of hyaluronic acid on osteoarthritis of the knee: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 86-A(3): 538–545.
  2. Lo GH, et al. (2003). Intra-articular hyaluronic acid in treatment of knee osteoarthritis. JAMA, 290(23): 3115–3121.
  3. Reichenbach S, et al (2007). Hylan versus hyaluronic acid for osteoarthritis of the knee: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 57(9): 1410–1418.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last Revised June 6, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.