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Most Medications Don’t Help Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Long Term


By Jonathan Block

December 31, 2018

Most Medications Don’t Help Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Long Term

If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis (OA) and think drugs can bring you pain relief over the long term, a new meta-analysis is challenging that assumption.

Researchers examined trials that 47 that enrolled more than 22,000 people with knee OA who were given 31 different types of medication as treatment for at least a 12-month period. These including analgesics such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), bisphosphonates, a type of bone-strengthening drug usually used in osteoporosis, injections into the knee such as hyaluronic acid and corticosteroids; and the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin.

Results, published in JAMA, showed that only two medications, Celebrex (celecoxib) and glucosamine, were associated with reduced pain after 12 month. However, researchers noted, 30% of Celebrex trials were determined to have a high risk for bias. When these trials were not considered, Celebrex was determined not to have significant effectiveness. Glucosamine was associated with a small improvement in pain and a significant improvement in physical functioning.

“Larger [trials] are needed to resolve the uncertainty around efficacy of medication for knee” OA, the study’s authors concluded.


Last updated: December 31, 2018