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'Short-term fix': Arthritis expert warns against popular knee injections



Experts are concerned people with osteoarthritis are resorting to quick-fix treatments that are not recommended in the clinic.

Analysis of Google Trends data and YouTube video views from 2004 to 2021 show greater interest in knee injections such as hyaluronic acid, stem cells and platelet-rich plasma.

"The hyaluronic acid injections are no better than a saltwater injection but it will cost you a lot more," said rheumatology clinician and researcher Professor David Hunter, University of Sydney and Kolling Institute.

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"The stem cell injections and the platelet-rich plasma, we just don't have good enough evidence," he said.

Professor David Hunter said the latest evidence on treatments is not filtering through to consumers and resources usually created with good intent, are still failing to reach individuals with osteoarthritis.

His opinions were published in Nature Reviews Rheumatology.

"Individuals with osteoarthritis need to be encouraged to manage their condition using behaviour and lifestyle interventions in the knowledge that the development of disease-modifying drugs might still be some way away," he stated.

Some of the core evidence-based treatments include doing exercises that strengthen the muscles around the affected joint.

"Working with a physiotherapist, working with an exercise physiologist trainer trying to learn how to strengthen those muscles," he said.

Staying active and losing weight if carrying extra kilos are other important steps that can make a difference.

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Losing five per cent of body weight can improve joint pain and function by 30 per cent

Cortisone injections can be used for short-term relief but it's not a long-term solution.

"One injection may be fine but repeat steroid injections appear to increase the risk of progressing the disease," said Professor Hunter.

More information on treatments and the latest advice can be found on websites including Arthritis Australia, My Joint Pain and Joint Action.

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