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Study: Less Effective Treatments Preferred by Elderly Osteoarthritis Sufferers

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Less Effective Treatments Preferred for OA

Study: Less Effective Treatments Preferred by Elderly Osteoarthritis Sufferers

July 13, 2004
By Diana Barnes Brown for Knee1
According to the most recent Archives of Internal Medicine, elderly sufferers of knee osteoarthritis would prefer a treatment that has fewer side effects versus a treatment that will have a chronic impact on their everyday lives. The study compiled the responses of 100 patients of an average age of 70 years. According to Dr. Liana Fraenkel, an assistant professor of internal medicine and rheumatology and lead researcher on the study, "we were interested in what patients' treatment preferences were for knee osteoarthritis." Forty-four percent of the patients interviewed said they preferred Capsaicin, a topical medication that relieves pain, even though it is in fact less effective than most other drug treatments. The medication has also been known to cause a burning or stinging sensation for up to a third of patients who use it, so many discontinue therapy because of the discomfort it causes. But even non-prescription, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications were enough to cause worry among the patients interviewed. Ibuprofen, the active ingredient in brands such as Motrin, Advil, and Nuprin, was one of the least popular options. Most of the patients who noted they were apprehensive about ibuprofen therapy were concerned about adverse side effects, such as stomach ulcers. But, according to most medical professionals, the risk associated with ibuprofen anti-inflammatory therapy is very low, with ulcers appearing in only about one or two of every 100 patients. According to Dr. Fraenkel, the main concern caused by these findings is that doctors may not be communicating effectively with their patients about all potential treatment options and what the risk factors are – or, perhaps more importantly, what they are not. While many patients would like to avoid continual drug therapy or surgery if at all possible, sometimes one or both of these options will provide the only real opportunity for increased mobility and improved quality of life. "Many times patients may not agree with what physicians would assume," noted Dr. Fraenkel. "This reinforces the importance of informing patients of everything that is a rational treatment option and figuring out what is best for them."

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