Hyaluronic Acid Injections in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis Secondary to Primary Inflammatory Rheumatic Diseases: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis

Adv Ther. 2020 Apr;37(4):1347-1359. doi: 10.1007/s12325-020-01256-7. Epub 2020 Mar 5.


The purpose of this study is to review the current literature on the use of hyaluronic acid (HA) specifically applied to the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) secondary to primary inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Osteoarthritis should be carefully considered because it has potentially devastating effects on health-related quality of life. Locally injected HA seems to be an effective treatment for OA but it is not clear how to place this treatment in the context of inflammatory rheumatic disorders. To retrieve relevant articles, we conducted the search through MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Databases performing the PICO strategy. We finally selected four randomized clinical trials and six observational studies and grouped them in accordance with its main objective within three focuses: the clinical effect of HA therapy in joints without any signs of inflammation, the clinical effects of HA therapy in joints with active synovitis, and the involvement and changes of synovial fluid in the treatment of secondary OA. Our qualitative analysis clearly showed that the current literature is marked by high levels of heterogeneity and therefore difficult to interpret. Therefore, our hypothesis that viscosupplementation should be considered as a treatment for chronic moderate symptomatic OA secondary to inflammatory rheumatic diseases, and not for flares with joint swelling, cannot be definitely supported. Well-designed studies are necessary to definitively clarify the range of application of intra-articular HA injections in the treatment of inflammatory rheumatic disorders.

Keywords: Hyaluronic acid; Osteoarthritis; Qualitative synthesis; Rheumatic diseases; Rheumatology; Systematic review; Viscosupplementation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Hyaluronic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Rheumatic Diseases / complications*
  • Synovial Fluid / drug effects
  • Synovitis / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viscosupplements / administration & dosage
  • Viscosupplements / therapeutic use*


  • Viscosupplements
  • Hyaluronic Acid