Acetaminophen least effective for treating knee osteoarthritis pain

New study compares treatments, finds pain-killing injections work best

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, knee osteoarthritis affects nearly 40 percent of Americans age 45 and older. One of the most noticeable symptoms is pain, and a new study finds that injections are proving to be the most effective non-surgical treatment for osteoarthritis-associated knee pain.

"This is a heavy burden of disease. We have so many people that are affected by knee osteoarthritis and although we don't have a cure, or something that can actually prevent this at this time, we do know a lot about easing the signs and symptoms," said Dr. Elaine Husni, who did not take part in the study but is a rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers at Tufts Medical Center compared 10 common treatments for knee osteoarthritis. They looked at things like: Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Corticosteroid and Hyaluronic acid injections, and the most commonly used over-the-counter treatment for knee O-A; acetaminophen. Results show acetaminophen to be the least effective option for pain. In fact, except for Celecoxib, all treatments were significantly better than acetaminophen. The injections proved to be most effective.

Researchers say the results may be able to help individualize patient- care decisions. Husni agrees, but says additional research is needed.

"We would love to have more research to, kind of, pinpoint which kinds of pain you're having from the knee osteoarthritis, which types of movements you can and cannot do and how you can increase your mobility, decrease your pain and go back to your daily activities without all of those problems," she said.  

Complete findings for the study titled: "Comparative Effectiveness of Pharmacologic Interventions for Knee Osteoarthritis" can be found in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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