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Side effects impact arthritis treatment



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Older patients with osteoarthritis prefer treatments with fewer adverse side effects even if they are less effective, U.S. researchers said.

Doctors at Yale University interviewed 100 patients with knee osteoarthritis -- a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and stiffness and is a leading cause of disability.

Of the various treatment options -- including surgery, weight loss and muscle-strengthening exercise -- 44 percent of patients preferred a less effective drug treatment called capsaicin, a topical agent that treats pain.

The risk of adverse side effects -- including gastrointestinal ulcers -- was the biggest factor in the patients' choices, the researchers said.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are widely prescribed for arthritis patients, also were found to be less-preferred treatments.

The magnitude of the discrepancy between patient preferences in this study and the widespread use of non-selective NSAIDs raises important questions about how patient preferences are elicited and how treatment decisions for osteoarthritis are made in clinical practice, the researchers said in a statement.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International

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