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Many With Arthritis Find Simple Solutions for Relief
Date:3/30/2010

But they would benefit more if they sought advice from doctors, pharmacists, study says

TUESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- An older person with knee pain who learns that the cause is arthritis -- the wear-and-tear kind called osteoarthritis -- probably will do the right things to treat it, and probably won't consult a doctor or pharmacist, a new Canadian study finds.

"Most of the things they did were appropriate," said Carlo Marra, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of British Columbia. He is lead author of the report in the April issue of Arthritis Care & Research that followed 190 people who were told they had knee osteoarthritis.

"Most tried to lose weight, most initiated an exercise program," he added.

And most of those efforts were self-initiated, the study found. "They just took it upon themselves and invoked the self-care model," Marra said. "Maybe they felt that the person best able to manage the condition was themselves."

Not all of the self-treatment was helpful or of maximum effectiveness. Some 36 percent of the people in the study took natural supplements such as glucosamine, "which are not thought to be helpful," Marra said. But often, those supplements were taken with effective painkillers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which include aspirin and ibuprofen and are available over the counter.

The study participants -- mostly overweight women with a mean age of 63 -- would have been better off with acetaminophen, an over-the-counter medication that is regarded as the treatment of choice for osteoarthritis knee pain, Marra said. "But mostly they did the right things, and their quality of life improved quite a bit," he said.

Marra acknowledged "a little disappointment that pharmacists didn't get involved with their care." A newer study, whose results will be published soon, compared outcomes of people who were given a
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