Anti-inflammatories do more harm than good

According to Inserm, osteoarthritis is the first cause of consultations after cardiovascular diseases in developed countries. The prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age. Thus, 65% of patients who are affected are over 65 years old.

Currently, the only solutions offered to patients can only relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis in order to improve their daily living conditions. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed for this purpose. However, the medical community lacks information regarding the long-term effects of these drugs on disease progression.

Osteoarthritis: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are ineffective

A new study from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California has looked into the question. According to his results, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, NSAIDs could, in the long term, aggravate the inflammation of the joints, particularly those of the knee.

In this study, 277 patients with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis and on sustained treatment with NSAIDs for at least one year participated. They were compared to a control group of 793 people who took no NSAIDs. Each volunteer underwent an MRI of the knee at the start of the study and then for four more years in order to observe the evolution of the inflammation.

Joint inflammation could get worse with NSAIDs

Result: The researchers found no long-term benefit from the use of NSAIDs. On the contrary, joint inflammation and cartilage quality were worse in participants taking NSAIDs compared to the control group. These adverse effects even worsened after four years of follow-up.

“In this large group of participants, we were able to show that NSAIDs offer no protective mechanism to reduce inflammation or slow the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee joint”said Dr. Johanna Luitjens, lead author of the study, in a statement.“The use of NSAIDs for their anti-inflammatory function has frequently spread among patients with osteoarthritis in recent years and should be revisited, as a positive impact on joint inflammation could not be demonstrated”she concluded.

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