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One of the most common treatments for osteoarthritis is 'ineffective'

The condition affects around 400,000 people in Ireland.

A person's hands that have been affected by osteoarthritis
A person's hands that have been affected by osteoarthritis
Image: Wikicommons

ONE OF THE most common ways of treating a bone condition that affects around 400,000 people in Ireland may not be effective, new research has found.

Paracetamol is one of the most common treatments for the form of arthritis that impacts on a person’s joints.

Although more common in older people, it is also possible for younger people and even teenagers to develop it.

Two of its most common forms impact on sufferers’ knees and hips.

What has this new research found? 

The research was carried out by Dr Sven Trelle from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

After pooling data from 74 random trials that have taken place over the past 35 years, 22 different medical treatments and one placebo were compared.

Of the more than 58,000 subjects examined, paracetamol was found to be one of the top two treatments, with its benefits being its relative lack of side effects.

When compared with the placebo, the pain pills were found not to have had a big enough impact to be considered worthwhile.

knee X-ray of knee osteoarthritis Source: Wikicommons

The most effective treatment for the condition were found to be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) which was the other most common treatment.

However, paracetamol was frequently prefered over it as NSAIDs come with long-term side effects that can include indigestion, stomach ulcers and increased blood pressure.

Speaking about this, Dr Trelle said: “NSAIDs are usually only used to treat short-term episodes of pain in osteoarthritis, because the side-effects are thought to outweigh the benefits when used longer term. Because of this, paracetamol is often prescribed to manage long-term pain instead of NSAIDs.

However, our results suggest that paracetamol at any dose is not effective in managing pain in osteoarthritis.

The research has appeared today in science journal The Lancet.

Also commenting on the findings, Professor Nicholas Moore from the Department of Pharmacology in the University of Bordeaux said:

Paracetamol has been on the market for as long as most of us remember. Its efficacy has never been properly established or quantified in chronic diseases, and is probably not as great as many would believe. Its safety is also questioned, not just in overdose.

Read: Suffer from lower back pain? Paracetamol might not be effective in relieving symptoms

Also: Simple painkillers ‘can help dementia patients’

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