BACKGROUND: High molecular weight (HMW) hyaluronic acid (HA) is a treatment option for knee osteoarthritis (OA). The efficacy of HMW-HA in knee OA is investigated extensively, but the effectiveness in patients in the working age is unknown. Nevertheless, the number knee OA patients in the working age is increasing. Surgical treatment options are less eligible in these patients and productivity losses are high. In this study the effectiveness of intra-articular HMW-HA added to regular non-surgical usual care in everyday clinical practice (UC) compared to UC over 52 weeks in symptomatic knee OA patients in the working age was investigated.
METHODS: In this open labelled randomized controlled trial, subjects aged between 18 and 65 years with symptomatic knee OA (Kellgren and Lawrence I-III) were enrolled and randomized to UC + 3 weekly injections with HMW-HA (intervention) or UC only (control). The primary outcome was the between group difference in responders to therapy according to OMERACT-OARSI criteria after 52 weeks. These criteria include the domains pain, knee related function and patient's global assessment (PGA). Function was evaluated with the KOOS questionnaire. Pain was assessed with the Numeric Rating Scale. Secondary outcome comprised the between group difference on the individual responder domains, as analysed with a random effects model. Odds Ratios (OR) were calculated by logistic regression analysis. Sensitivity analyses were performed.
RESULTS: In total, 156 subjects were included (intervention group 77, control group 79). Subjects in the intervention group (HMW-HA + UC) were more often responder compared to the controls (UC). Depending on whether pain during rest or pain during activity was included in the responder domains, 57.1% versus 34.2% (p = 0.006) and 54.5% versus 34.2% (p = 0.015) was responder to therapy respectively. The results of the secondary outcome analyses show that scores on individual responder domains over all follow-up moments were statistically significant in favour of the intervention group in the domains pain during rest (d 0.8, 95%CI 0.2; 1.4, p = 0.010), knee related function (d - 6.8, 95%CI -11.9; - 1.7, p = 0.010) and PGA (d - 0.7, 95%CI -0.9; - 0.4, p < 0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Intra-articular HMW-HA added to usual care is effective for knee OA in patients in the working age.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: www.trialregister.nl , NTR1651, registered 2009-3-3.
As a generalist, I find this an interesting read and certainly worth sharing with patients being referred into secondary care to inform their treatment options. I would ensure that they were aware of this treatment and to discuss it as a possible option before surgical intervention. It is always good to be aware of other non-surgical treatments that can be considered to support working age patients in particular.