What Is a Rooster Comb Injection?

May 31, 2019 | Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Treatments

Understanding the Origins and Application of Rooster Comb Injections

Note: Rooster comb injections can also be referred to as viscosupplementation or hyaluronic acid injections. We use these terms interchangeably throughout this blog post.

Much like a well-oiled machine, your joints function smoothly when they are sufficiently lubricated. Thankfully, our bodies produce a thick, gel-like substance that keeps our joints lubricated and properly functioning called synovial fluid.

However, for patients with arthritis in their knees, the synovial fluid that is essential for smooth joint movement decreases as their cartilage deteriorates. This erosion of cartilage also breaks down the active ingredient in the synovial fluid: hyaluronic acid, which naturally occurs in healthy joints to lubricate and absorb shock.

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, a rooster comb injection, also known as viscosupplementation or hyaluronic acid injections, is used to restore the hyaluronic acid levels in your knees to that of fully functioning joints. The goal is to reduce the creaking and grinding in your joints, restore function and lower inflammation.

Why is It Called a “Rooster Comb Injection?”

Doctors realized that cartilage in the combs of roosters – the red, fleshy flap of skin found on the crown of male chickens – contained a high concentration of hyaluronan, or hyaluronic acid. These combs proved plentiful, since they were thrown out when the birds were processed for consumption.

By the early ’40s, doctors discovered how to extract and purify that hyaluronan from rooster combs, and by the ‘70s, they started injecting it into the arthritic knees of racehorses to ease joint pain. Researchers quickly recognized the health benefits of hyaluronic treatments and began using them on humans in the ‘80s to protect corneas during cataract surgery. They were later implemented as a joint pain treatment for arthritis patients, and it’s still one of the most effective treatments today.

Considering the Pros & Cons

The U.S. FDA approved the first rooster comb injection in the late ’90s. Now, there are more than six different FDA-approved brands of hyaluronic acid knee injections available for arthritis patients. All are considered equally effective, and no one brand is superior to another.

Viscosupplementation is ideal for patients who tried other treatments such as oral pain relievers or other types of injections and found them ineffective. A typical treatment consists of three to five weekly injections and can provide patients with symptom relief from osteoarthritis for up to six months on average.

However, it can take up to five weeks after the last injection for patients to experience the full relief a rooster comb injection can provide, while cortisone injections provide patients significant pain relief in a few days.

That said, pain relief from a cortisone injection typically lasts for only a few weeks to a couple of months. Additionally, a hyaluronic acid injection doesn’t deteriorate cartilage like cortisone injections can if overused.

Additional Resources

To learn more about rooster comb injections and the other types of arthritis pain relief treatments, schedule a risk-free consultation with one of our pain management experts at Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers.

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