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Back to the basics - a follow-up.

Having succumbed to space restraints last month, we thought you might like more information about the effectiveness of acetaminophen (Tylenol) in treating osteoarthritis.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was done by Dr. Kenneth Brandt, director of the rheumatology division of the Indiana University Medical Center, and Dr. John Bradley, clinical associate professor of medicine. They found that acetaminophen controlled the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee just as effectively as ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). As we noted, the use of acetaminophen avoids the undersirable side effects and the higher cost of the NSAIDs.

About 16 million American adults have sympton of osteoarthritis--usually severe and constant pain. "The pain is what brings the patients to the doctors--not the swelling and inflammation of the joints," says Dr. Brandt. "The standard of practice among doctors is to prescribe the anti-inflammatories to primarily take care of the pain." The main issue is not cost, but the difference in side effects. "If a patient can achieve the same level of pain reduction without having the problems of the side effects, then we think that is very important."

With relief of pain, the patient is able to exercise the affected joint, which helps to reduce the swelling and regain the usefulness of the joint. Although the study involved only patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, there is every reason to believe that doctors can expect similar results with osteoarthritis of other joints.

Because some NSAIDs cost as much as $50 to $60 a month, compared to $7 a month for comparable doses of acetaminophen, the savings can be significant. This is particularly true if, for example, one purchase the acetaminophen in generic form--as a "non-aspirin pain reliever."
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Title Annotation:treating osteoarthritis with acetaminophen
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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