Hyaluronic Acid 101: The Facts for Joint Health

Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in your body, but because of health reasons, sometimes more of it can be beneficial. From moisturizing the skin to providing relief to joint pain, here’s what you need to know about hyaluronic acid.

6 minute read

Last Updated July 2, 2020

Hyaluronic Acid 101: The Facts for Joint Health

Hyaluronic acid is everywhere these days. It seems to be the new miracle compound with claims to improve joint health while also working as an organic facelift. With claims this broad and bold, can any of it be true? 

The good news is there is some truth to the claims. Hyaluronic acid plays an important role in the body, and it’s oddly diverse, which is why the benefits seem so unrelated.  Let’s take a deeper look into hyaluronic acid and why you might want to start adding this to your health regimen.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by your body. It’s mainly found in your skin, connective tissues, and your eyes. This is part of the reason it’s so great at reducing the appearance of aging and protecting your joints. 

If you’re wondering how supplemental hyaluronic acid is made, it can be made by bacteria in a laboratory, or it is extracted from rooster combs.

The Function of Hyaluronic Acid 

The primary function of hyaluronic acid is to hold water that keeps your tissues moist. Each molecule of hyaluronic acid has the potential to hold one thousand times its weight in water. Not only does it retain the moisture in your skin, but it can also prevent it from evaporating. 

Hyaluronic acid is a significant component of epithelial tissues and seems to play a role in cell division and movement. It’s also an important component of synovial fluid, which is a lubricating agent in your joints. Not only does hyaluronic acid show up in your synovial fluid, but it’s also found in joint cartilage where it coats the cells for lubrication.

Where Do You Get Hyaluronic Acid?

As you age, the naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in your body decreases. Diet is a great way to help retain the hyaluronic acid you have. If you have a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables and antioxidants, then your skin is protected from inflammation, which helps hold onto this valuable acid.

If you think you’re not getting all the help you can from your diet, you can also take hyaluronic acid in supplement form, use a topical serum, get eye drops with it, or have injections. 

How Hyaluronic Acid Helps Your Joints

While there are other benefits of hyaluronic acid, it’s the joints and joint pain relief that is currently showing a lot of promise. Here are some ways it can help people with joint disease or chronic joint pain.

Joint pain management

A study looking at the efficacy of hyaluronic acid in comparison to NSAIDs when used specifically for knee osteoarthritis found that it offers relatively the same degree of pain relief. The best news in this study is that hyaluronic acid did not have the same adverse gastrointestinal concerns that NSAIDs have, making this a better option for many patients with osteoarthritis.

Anti-inflammatory

A study looking at oral hyaluronic acid used to treat osteoarthritis found that not only was the oral option effective but that it also had anti-inflammatory contributions, which made it even more beneficial for joint pain sufferers.

Better quality of life

Looking at hyaluronic acid supplements and people with osteoarthritis of the knee, a study found that the improvements not only included traditional symptom relief but that it also produced higher physical and emotional functioning. This shows a marked improvement in quality of life, making it a must for people suffering from joint illness. 

Avoid surgery

Remarkably, one study looked at the benefits of a diet containing chicken comb extract (CCE), a substance rich in hyaluronic acid. They discovered that there is some level of chondroprotection against osteoarthritis with the CCE diet. They posit that this could lead to non-surgical management for the knee by relieving pain and functional disability while also protecting articular cartilage.

Symptom relief

The Arthritis Foundation evaluated the use of hyaluronic acid injections on osteoarthritis and warned that the results are variable. While they found that symptom relief could not be guaranteed, a significant amount of people who received these injections became virtually pain-free. Their symptom relief lasted up to two years. 

That’s a significant change for people who are living with chronic pain and mobility restrictions due to osteoarthritis.

The Bottom Line

Hyaluronic acid seems to be a hot button topic these days with claims that feel too good to be true. The interesting thing is that the claims may actually be valid. This naturally occurring substance is mainly responsible for holding moisture and feeding it to your cells when they need it. The benefits from this moisture range from having smooth and youthful-looking skin to having less joint pain.

For joint pain sufferers, especially those with osteoarthritis, the news is even better. Multiple studies have looked into the efficacy of hyaluronic acid as an injection and as an oral supplement and found that both methods of consumption can be extremely effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain, inflammation, and other symptoms. It’s also possible that taking a hyaluronic acid supplement can help manage symptoms so well that you don’t need surgery.

For people suffering from joint problems, it’s always best to seek the advice of your medical health professional before starting a new supplement. That said, it’s definitely worth bringing up this conversation and asking if hyaluronic acid supplements are right for you.

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