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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Rutjes 2012.

Viscosupplementation for knee arthritis, negative review

updated
Rutjes AW, Jüni P, da Costa BR, Trelle S, Nüesch E, Reichenbach S. Viscosupplementation for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Aug;157(3):180–91. PubMed #22868835.
Tags: treatment, bad news, knee, arthritis, injections, running, leg, limbs, pain problems, aging, medicine, exercise, self-treatment

PainSci summary of Rutjes 2012?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Should you get a knee lube job? Just say no! This treatment for osteoarthritis is so busted by a new review of the research so far. The injection of hyaluronic acid — slippery stuff — into the knee to decrease the symptoms of osteoarthritis has been in use for several years (in Canada since 1992). Nearly 90 trials were reviewed and it was determined that this treatment is associated “with a small and clinically irrelevant benefit and an increased risk for serious adverse events.” take-home message? Combining injections and wishful thinking is bad news.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Viscosupplementation, the intra-articular injection of hyaluronic acid, is widely used for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

PURPOSE: To assess the benefits and risks of viscosupplementation for adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE (1966 to January 2012), EMBASE (1980 to January 2012), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1970 to January 2012), and other sources.

STUDY SELECTION: Randomized trials in any language that compared viscosupplementation with sham or nonintervention control in adults with knee osteoarthritis.

DATA EXTRACTION: Primary outcomes were pain intensity and flare-ups. Secondary outcomes included function and serious adverse events. Reviewers used duplicate abstractions, assessed study quality, pooled data by using a random-effects model, examined funnel plots, and explored heterogeneity by using meta-regression.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Eighty-nine trials involving 12 667 adults met inclusion criteria. Sixty-eight had a sham control, 40 had a follow-up duration greater than 3 months, and 22 used cross-linked forms of hyaluronic acid. Overall, 71 trials (9617 patients) showed that viscosupplementation moderately reduced pain (effect size, -0.37 [95% CI, -0.46 to -0.28]). There was important between-trial heterogeneity and an asymmetrical funnel plot: Trial size, blinded outcome assessment, and publication status were associated with effect size. Five unpublished trials (1149 patients) showed an effect size of -0.03 (CI, -0.14 to 0.09). Eighteen large trials with blinded outcome assessment (5094 patients) showed a clinically irrelevant effect size of -0.11 (CI, -0.18 to -0.04). Six trials (811 patients) showed that viscosupplementation increased, although not statistically significantly, the risk for flare-ups (relative risk, 1.51 [CI, 0.84 to 2.72]). Fourteen trials (3667 patients) showed that viscosupplementation increased the risk for serious adverse events (relative risk, 1.41 [CI, 1.02 to 1.97]).

LIMITATIONS: Trial quality was generally low. Safety data were often not reported.

CONCLUSION: In patients with knee osteoarthritis, viscosupplementation is associated with a small and clinically irrelevant benefit and an increased risk for serious adverse events.

related content

These two articles on PainScience.com cite Rutjes 2012 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: