In order to move the joints optimally and to supply them with nutrients, they must be surrounded by viscous substances that can flexibly adapt their structure and cushion high loads.
Hyaluronic acid has exactly these properties. This is because the polysaccharide belonging to the glycosaminoglycans (GAG) is able to bind large amounts of water. Due to this water retention, the hyaluronic acid can withstand strong pressure, acts like a shock absorber and yet remains elastic. The hyaluronic acid also ensures that the individual joint parts can move smoothly. Because it can change its viscosity (viscosity): the stronger the shear forces, the more it liquefies without being squeezed out of the joint like water.
Hyaluronic acid: not just in the joints
Since hyaluronic acid adheres particularly well to the cartilage, it is not surprising that it makes up the main part of the synovial fluid. However, hyaluronic acid is not only found in cartilage and synovial fluid, but everywhere in connective tissue. In tendons and ligaments, skin, lymphatic fluid and the vitreous humor of the eye, for example, the polysaccharide is contained in large quantities.
The body’s own hyaluronic acid
The cells of the connective tissue can produce hyaluronic acid themselves in order to then transport it to the outside into the intercellular spaces (extracellular matrix). However, in-house production slowly declines from the age of 25. This has far-reaching consequences: The joints gradually wear out. But the skin can also store less water, so that more and more wrinkles appear over time.
Support joints sensibly
If osteoarthritis is beginning, therapy with hyaluronic acid, which is injected directly into the affected joint space, can alleviate the symptoms. However, the supplied hyaluronic acid is broken down again after a very short time. The regular intake of hyaluronic acid can also minimize osteoarthritis pain, but also optimally support the joints under high loads.