Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition that causes inflammation of one or more joints. Also called degenerative joint disease, this condition causes the cushion layer between one’s bones or cartilage to wear away. It is characterized by inflammation resulting in chronic joint pain, swelling and restriction of movement. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 52.5 million US adults suffer from this condition. Nearly 1 in 2 people may have the potential chance of developing knee OA within the age of 85 years. The potential causes associated with this joint disorder include age, repetitive stress injuries, overweight, and genetics. There are different treatment modalities for this condition. The type of treatment may depend on the intensity of symptoms and how it affects a patient’s day-to-day life.
A new review of studies has found that all of the widely used arthritis treatments provide more relief from knee pain over three months than do placebo pills. The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (January 6, 2015 issue) found that hyaluronic acid or corticosteroids injection is the most effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis pain and the least effective may be Tylenol or Celebrex pills.
The study analyzed about 137 randomized trials involving more than 33,000 patients. Researchers utilized a statistical method that made comparisons of results from previous trials that tested either oral medications or injections. The treatment modalities included ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), diclofenac, naproxen, celecoxib (Celebrex), corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid injections, and oral and injected placebos.
It was found that all modalities were better than placebo pills at reducing arthritis pain but their effect was not the same. However, the injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) were more effective than any of the pills. This was closely followed by cortisone. Non–steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that include acetaminophen were also effective as this is often prescribed for pain reduction. The study signifies that hyaluronic acid and steroid injections are more effective than drugs.
Researchers point out that even though some treatments appear to be better than others, there is no single treatment modality that is best for everyone. It is essential for patients to consult their physicians and discuss the nature of their joint problem and adopt a treatment modality on that basis. Pain management specialists at leading multi-specialty healthcare centers can provide specialized and result-oriented treatment to patients that will help to effectively manage their joint condition.