Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting around one in thirteen people. HA is a major factor in arthritis. In joints, the synovial fluid is attacked by free radicals and the joints become degraded and loses lubrication. Friction then occurs and the joint degenerates. OA can occur in any joint but mainly affects the weight bearing joints.
The addition of HA to the joints can reduce friction and act as a ‘cushion’ in the joint. In synovial fluid, HA also acts as an anti-oxidant and is also a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Modern Treatment of Osteoarthritis
Anti-inflammatory drugs are the standard treatment but may produce side effects (digestive disorders) and may even worsen the process. Traditional drugs may relieve pain but can also produce more wear and tear on the joints.
Maintaining the space between joints is critical and this is where HA can help as it improves the cushioning at the end of the bones and therefore can help to reduce wear and tear of the joints.
HA plays an important role in maintaining joint health and normal synovial fluid contains 3-4 mg per milliliter of fluid at a molecular weight of 4-5 million Daltons. In osteoarthritis HA breaks down and the levels drop to 1-2 mg per ml.
The level of HA in blood serum increases with physical exercise. Activity forces broken down HA out of the tissues and into the lymphatic system. In the morning, the blood plasma levels of HA are low and the excess HA puffs up the joint with water which results in stiff joints. Muscular activity pumps the excess HA out of the joints so the best time to exercise is in the morning for suffers of OA and the best time to take HA supplements is midday when the joints will benefit from a top up.