Anti-inflammatory drugs may worsen arthritis

A new study indicates non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may worsen long term outcomes for some forms of arthritis. NSAIDs include drugs such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Diclofenac. They are commonly used across the Western world to help manage pain and inflammation for a range of muscle and joint problems, particularly arthritis. This category of medications include over-the-counter drugs and also medications that require a prescription from a medical doctor.

Despite their common use, little is known of the long-term effects of these drugs on disease progression.

Research presented to the Radiological Society of North America looked at the impact of NSAIDs on osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. This study showed no structural long-term benefit of NSAID use in patients with OA could be found. Furthermore, users showed more synovitis at baseline and change over 4 years, which may lead to an increase in pain and a decrease in joint function.

“To date, no curative therapy has been approved to cure or reduce the progression of knee osteoarthritis,” said the study’s lead author, Johanna Luitjens, M.D., postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco.

What about low back pain?

A different study published in ‘Science Transitional Medicine’ showed, “The management of acute inflammation with NSAIDs may be counterproductive for long-term outcomes of low back pain sufferers”

It appears the early treatment with NSAIDs also led to prolonged pain despite relieving pain in the short term; such a prolongation was not observed with other analgesics or pain controlling strategies.

Should chiropractic care for arthritis be a part of a holistic long term approach?

A better approach

While some medications are occasionally used as an alternative to temporarily relieve symptoms, low back pain is generally a mechanical problem that responds best to a mechanical solution.

A study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed patient satisfaction is significantly higher when people visit chiropractors. “Patients with chronic low-back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement and satisfaction at one month than patients treated by family physicians. A higher proportion of chiropractic patients (56% vs. 13%) reported that their low-back pain was better or much better, whereas nearly one third of medical patients reported their low-back pain was worse or much worse.”

What is the best long term approach to managing arthritis?

There is no doubt medications like NSAIDs can be very useful in the short term. Like all medications they come with potential side effects and their long term use is questionable. Severe inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, will likely require specialist management. However, strategies like chiropractic care, regular exercise, healthy eating and mindfulness may go a long way to managing your pain and improving your life enjoyment.

Time to see if chiropractic care can help arthritis? You can now book online.