Intra-articular injections of hyaluronic acid are potentially useful to treat ankle osteoarthritis, yet their effectiveness has not been proven. Both single and multiple-dose treatments for ankle arthritis with use of various hyaluronic acid products have been recommended, but few high-quality studies have been published. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a single intra-articular injection of hyaluronic acid with a single intra-articular injection of normal saline solution (placebo) for osteoarthritis of the ankle.Methods:
Sixty-four patients with ankle osteoarthritis who met all study criteria were randomly assigned to a single intra-articular injection of 2.5 mL of low-molecular-weight, non-cross-linked hyaluronic acid or a single intra-articular injection of 2.5 mL of normal saline solution. The primary outcome measure was the change from baseline in the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) clinical rating score at the six-week and twelve-week follow-up examination. Secondary outcome measures included the Ankle Osteoarthritis Scale score and patient-reported pain with use of a visual analog pain scale.Results:
Of the sixty-four patients randomized and treated, eight patients withdrew, leaving fifty-six patients who completed the entire study. There was one mild adverse event (1.6%) among the sixty-four patients. At six weeks and twelve weeks, the mean AOFAS scores in the hyaluronic acid group had improved from baseline by 4.9 and 4.9 points, respectively, whereas the mean AOFAS scores in the placebo group initially worsened by 0.4 point at six weeks and then improved by 5.4 points at twelve weeks. While the change at twelve weeks from baseline was substantial for both groups, the between-group differences were not significant.Conclusions:
We found that a single intra-articular injection of low-molecular-weight, non-cross-linked hyaluronic acid is not demonstrably superior to a single intra-articular injection of saline solution for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the ankle.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.