According to a major study paracetamol has little to no effect when it comes to managing hip and knee pain caused by arthritis.
Scientists have declared that paracetamol is ineffective against osteoarthritis, one of the most common types of arthritis, no matter the dose.
Pracaetamol has been the main treatment for arthritis due to the fact that it has fewer side effects although it’s less effective than stronger drugs. Despite this fact, new evidence suggest that paracetamol has very few effects when it comes to easing pain or improving mobility, while at the same time it still causes side effects.
NICE, the NHS clinical guidelines watchdog, told doctors in 2013 to stop prescribing paracetamol pills to osteoarthritis patients due to their long-term impact such as heart, kidney and intestinal problems. On the other hand, Arthritis Research UK still recommends paracetamol to patients for treating mild and moderate pain caused by the disease.
According to the new study, published in the Lancet medical journal, paracetamol does not meet the minimum standard of clinical effectiveness when it comes to reducing pain or improving physical function in patients suffering from knee and hip osteoarthritis.
The Swiss researchers have discovered that despite the fact that paracetamol was better than a placebo pill it still has no role in treating osteoarthritis patients no matter the dose.
The researchers pooled data from 74 randomized trials with 58500 patients. By doing so they discovered that diclofenac, which is a powerful painkiller, was the most effective treatment but it causes severe side effects if used over the long-term. They further stated that diclofenac or other similar nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could be taken into consideration for intermittent use as long as they aren’t used long term.
Dr. Sven Trelle, study leader of the Swiss team, declared that NSAiDs are normally used just for treating short-term episodes of pain in osteoarthritis because they can cause more side effects than benefits. He stated that this is the reason paracetamol is usually prescribed to manage long term pain, but since they’ve discovered its ineffectiveness they took into consideration the use of certain NSAIDs that can be used without paracetamol.
British scientist said that patients who are taking paracetamol as a treatment shouldn’t worry, rather be called for research to determine a better treatment for the condition. According to Dr. Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, paracetamol remains a safe drug according to most studies but given the fact that recent studies doubt its effectiveness at treating osteoarthritis and that NSAIDs aren’t a safe option for treating the disease more research is necessary for creating a more suitable alternative to paracetamol.
The new research involving paracetamol generated quite some controversy whether it is effective or not, the only conclusion so far being that if patients want to use paracetamol they should consult their pharmacist.