Is Acetaminophen the Best Choice for Arthritis Pain?

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Prescription diclofenac a more effective choice for short-term pain relief, researchers say.
Prescription diclofenac a more effective choice for short-term pain relief, researchers say.

HealthDay News -- Acetaminophen isn't an effective choice for osteoarthritis pain in the hip or knee, or for improving joint function, according to a report in The Lancet.

The current research included information from 74 trials published between 1980 and 2015. These trials included 58 556 patients. The studies compared how well various doses of acetaminophen and seven different nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieved arthritis pain.

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The researchers found that acetaminophen was slightly better than placebo. But they added that the improvements in pain and physical function did not reach the minimum clinically important difference (effect size of −0.17 versus clinically important difference of −0.37). The team determined that diclofenac at a dose of 150 mg/day was the most effective treatment for pain and disability.

Tylenol manufacturer McNeil Consumer Healthcare took issue with the new study. "We disagree with the authors' interpretation of this meta-analysis and believe acetaminophen remains an important pain relief option for millions of consumers, particularly those with certain conditions for which NSAIDs may not be appropriate — including cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, and renal disease," the company said in a prepared statement.

Reference

da Costa B, Reichenbach S, Keller N, et al. Effectiveness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of pain in knee and hip osteoarthritis: a network meta-analysis. The Lancet. 2016. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)30002-2.

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