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What Are Rooster Comb Injections?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Rooster comb injections are a temporary treatment for mildly or moderately arthritic knees. These involve injecting special fluid, called hyaluronan, to replace some of the joint’s missing synovial fluid. When this viscosupplementation occurs, some patients have significant pain reduction that may last for up to a year. The interesting name refers to the many forms of hyaluronan that were or are still made from the combs of roosters. Patients who have allergies to eggs or chickens may not be good candidates for some types of these injections, and other people may be ineligible for viscosupplementation because insurers don’t always cover it.

This treatment generally won’t work for people with severe arthritis, but it may be a viable alternative for those with mild or moderate versions of the disease. Presently, these injections are only available for arthritic knees, though at some point in the future, hyaluronan might be considered for the treatment of other joints. The procedures for giving the injections often follow the same course: over several weeks, a number of injections of the sticky and thick fluid are given into the knee space.

While initial response to an injection is often soreness and stiffness, over time, rooster comb injections may reduce pain in the knees and also increase the ability to move the knee without soreness. The precise number of injections that can produce this effect varies by patient. Some individuals with mild arthritis might only require one to two injections to gain relief, but other patients with more pronounced pain could need many more.

Despite its benefits, hyaluronan doesn't cure arthritis and is not always effective. Some patients don’t experience relief with the shots, and even when they do work, the respite from pain fades over time, and usually isn’t expected to last more than a year. This measure is therefore considered temporary, and progressive arthritis of the knee eventually requires other measures, including surgery.

Another point of concern is that rooster comb injections can cause extremely dangerous reactions in people who are allergic to chicken or eggs. There are presently one or two formulas that don’t pose this risk, however. It is exceptionally important that people alert their healthcare providers to allergies of this type so that a synovial fluid replacement shot doesn’t create anaphylactic shock.

Since viscosupplementation with hyaluronan has only received government approval in the US recently, many may find their insurance companies will not cover these treatments. If, in time, these injections are more frequently used, more insurers might be willing to pay for them. In a way, companies that choose to cover viscosupplementation may be making an economically sound decision because this procedure can put off much more in-depth treatments, such as surgery, that are significantly more costly.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon997514 — On Jan 18, 2017

Like most things, there are multiple causes: Mileage, genetics, shoes that fit or not, the way a person walks, possible lack of necessary minerals (calcium, etc.), eeight (including carrying heavy loads), surfaces walked on (rocks and mountains, etc.).

By anon948803 — On May 02, 2014

I have knee Osteoarthritis. I am 52 and am in shape. I eat right and exercise. I am not overweight. I still have it. Weight alone does not cause this. A working career of construction caused mine.

By anon325536 — On Mar 16, 2013

Lose weight and you will have a lifetime of benefits far beyond knee pain.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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