Common Painkillers Like Ibuprofen And Naproxen Can Make Arthritis Inflammation Even Worse By Study Finds
Common painkillers can make the misery of osteoarthritis even worse, a new study warns.
Ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac are among the many drugs for relieving aching joints. However, researchers say they may aggravate inflammation of the knee over time. They belong to a class of medications known as NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The study, based on a review of over 1,000 patients, is one of the first to investigate their long-term effects.
“To date, no curative therapy has been approved to cure or reduce the progression of knee osteoarthritis,” says lead study author Johanna Luitjens, M.D., a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California-San Francisco, in a media release.
“NSAIDs are frequently used to treat pain, but it is still an open discussion of how NSAID use influences outcomes for osteoarthritis patients. In particular, the impact of NSAIDs on synovitis, or the inflammation of the membrane lining the joint, has never been analyzed using MRI-based structural biomarkers.”
Arthritis patients do better without the painkillers
The team found no benefit in 277 patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis who also engaged in sustained NSAID use. In fact, joint inflammation and cartilage quality got worse over the next four years compared to a group of 793 controls who did not take the drugs.
Dr. Luitjens and her colleagues looked at the link between NSAIDs and synovitis and assessed how the therapy impacted joint structure over time.
“Synovitis mediates development and progression of osteoarthritis and may be a therapeutic target,” Dr. Luitjens continues. “Therefore, the goal of our study was to analyze whether NSAID treatment influences the development or progression of synovitis and to investigate whether cartilage imaging biomarkers, which reflect changes in osteoarthritis, are impacted by NSAID treatment.”