NSAIDS better for moderate, severe osteoarthritis pain

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 13, 2006

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Acetaminophen reduces pain associated with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, but nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs appear to be better for those with more severe cases, at least in the short term, according to a Cochrane Collaboration review published last month.

Researchers with Queens University in Ontario analyzed 15 studies involving nearly 6,000 subjects, comparing these drugs with each other and placebo. Acetaminophen was found superior to no treatment. Traditional NSAIDS as well as the newer COX-2 inhibitors were found to have a greater effect on pain while also reducing stiffness and improving function. Aspirin was not included in this review.

There was no significant difference in the overall safety. Researchers expressed caution, though, because the average trial length was short, so not all adverse events might have been apparent in that timeline.

"The benefits between the drugs are modest, and the studies were only about six weeks long," wrote the authors. "Therefore, it is important to consider preferences, risks, costs, availability of the drugs and doctors' judgment when making a decision."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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