Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1992 Apr; 33(4): 357-63.
The treatment of osteoarthritis.
Rheumatology Unit, City Hospital, Nottingham.
1. The treatment of osteoarthritis is currently purely symptomatic. To enable rational therapy, careful clinical assessment is necessary to identify the origin of symptoms. Often, effective therapy can result from a biomechanical approach such as surgery, orthotics, physiotherapy and dieting. If drugs are required, there is little evidence that the current over-reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is justified. Full dose regular paracetamol should be the first line of analgesic therapy. In the majority of patients, simple analgesics are probably as effective as NSAIDs. If NSAIDs are used it is necessary to review regularly their use and to be aware of potential toxicity. 2. Many alternative strategies of pain management such as topical preparations, intra-articular steroid injections, acupuncture, radiosynovectomy, transcutaneous nerve stimulation and anti-depressants, may be effective but their precise place in the armamentarium is not yet fully established. 3. The realisation that osteoarthritis is not a passive 'wear and tear' phenomenon but an active process that may be potentially modified, has led to interest in 'chondroprotective' agents, which may beneficially affect the osteoarthritic process. To date there are no convincing data available that such agents are, in fact, chondroprotective in humans.