Most Medications Don’t Help Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Long Term

Most Medications Don’t Help Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Long Term

If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis (OA) and think drugs can bring you pain relief over the long term, a new meta-analysis is challenging that assumption.

Researchers examined trials that 47 that enrolled more than 22,000 people with knee OA who were given 31 different types of medication as treatment for at least a 12-month period. These including analgesics such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), bisphosphonates, a type of bone-strengthening drug usually used in osteoporosis, injections into the knee such as hyaluronic acid and corticosteroids; and the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin.

Results, published in JAMA, showed that only two medications, Celebrex (celecoxib) and glucosamine, were associated with reduced pain after 12 month. However, researchers noted, 30% of Celebrex trials were determined to have a high risk for bias. When these trials were not considered, Celebrex was determined not to have significant effectiveness. Glucosamine was associated with a small improvement in pain and a significant improvement in physical functioning.

“Larger [trials] are needed to resolve the uncertainty around efficacy of medication for knee” OA, the study’s authors concluded.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is an associate editor at BioCentury, which provides news and information about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining BioCentury in 2019, Jonathan worked for MedShadow as content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


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