Relief for Patients With Osteoarthritis Pain

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SAN FRANCISCO – Approximately 21 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. For many Americans with osteoarthritis pain in joints amenable to topical treatment, such as

the knees and those of the hands, topical treatments may be preferable to an oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) regimen. This is especially true for athletes with concentrated or limited joint pain.

A study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 59th Annual Meeting in San Francisco compared the relative effectiveness of diclofenac sodium 1% gel (DSG), a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory treatment, to treat osteoarthritis pain in the first carpometacarpal joint (base of the thumb) and intraphalangeal (hinge) joints of the fingers.

“Osteoarthritis in the finger, wrist and hand joints is common in sports that require exceptional grip strength, such as climbing, or sports that have a high risk for thumb and finger injuries, such as basketball,” said Roy D. Altman, MD, a rheumatologist with the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles and lead investigator of the study funded by Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. “Limiting treatment to the affected finger joints with topical DSG may be preferable for patients wishing to minimize systemic NSAID exposure.”

For the study, patients ages 40 and older with hand osteoarthritis applied DSG or a vehicle/placebo gel four times daily for eight weeks. Researchers assessed pain intensity using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and pain, stiffness and function measured with the Australian/Canadian Osteoarthritis Hand Index (AUSCAN) subscales. The investigators compared the effectiveness of the topical treatments in patients with osteoarthritis in the first carpometacarpal joint, first carpometacarpal plus intraphalangeal joints, and intraphalangeal joints only.

The study concluded that DSG was superior to vehicle gel for reducing osteoarthritis pain in all the assessed finger joints, with a trend toward improvement in stiffness and function.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.


The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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