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[‘NUFF SAID] NSAIDs may worsen knee joint inflammation over time

Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen for osteoarthritis may worsen inflammation in the knee joint over time, according to a study presented November 21 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for osteoarthritis pain and inflammation, but little is known of the long-term effects of these drugs on disease progression.

The researchers analyzed the association between NSAID use and synovitis in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and to assess how treatment with NSAIDs affects joint structure over time. Synovitis occurs when the connective tissue that lines the joint becomes inflamed. The goal of the study was to see whether NSAID use influences the development or progression of synovitis.

For the study, 277 participants with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis who took NSAIDs consistently for at least one year were compared with 793 control participants who were not treated with NSAIDs. All participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the knee initially and after four years. Images were scored for biomarkers of inflammation.

The results showed no long-term benefit of NSAIDs. In fact, joint inflammation and cartilage quality were worse at baseline in the participants taking NSAIDs compared to the control group, and worsened at four-year follow-up. The authors say that the use of NSAIDs for their anti-inflammatory effects should be revisited, since a positive impact on joint inflammation could not be demonstrated.

Download the abstract of the presentation, “Impact of Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) on Synovitis and the Progression of Osteoarthritis: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative,” here

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