New Jab Provides Three Months of Pain Relief for Arthritic Knees
Scientists have developed a new jab which could provide three months of pain relief for those suffering from arthritis in their knees. The new treatment seems to be effective without causing any of the problems associated with previous treatments.
In a clinical trial involving more than 700 people, researchers found the jab to offer more long-lasting pain relief than existing treatments. The treatment involves injecting microspheres, which are filled with a steroid called triamcinolone acetonide, into the knee. The spheres are coated in a biodegradable compound which breaks down once inside the body, releasing the drug slowly enough for its effects to last for a relatively long time.
A study at the University of Sydney showed that the drug remains in the joint fluid for twelve weeks, and Flexion Therapeutics, the developers, are currently conducting further trials in the US.
The main reason a new treatment for arthritic pain is so welcome is that there are a number of issues with existing treatments. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are commonly used, but because their active ingredients are released immediately, the drugs only offer very short-term relief. Opioid painkillers, such as codeine, can be used for more severe pain but can have a number of potential side effects, such as drowsiness and nausea.
Steroids have already been used in the past as tablets or injections but again, can have many undesirable side effects, like facial flushing, skin thinning and mood changes. What’s great about the new steroid treatment is that it releases steroids in a way which means the effects last longer than those of other treatments. It is also a treatment which is administered straight to the problem area and does not circulate around the rest of the body, and this limits the risk of side effects.
“Doctors have been injecting steroids into joints to reduce pain for years,” says Jane Tadman, of Arthritis Research UK. “However, what’s novel and interesting about this approach is not the drug itself, but the way it is being delivered. We’re investigating similar ways of doing this in rheumatoid arthritis.
“One of the benefits of this method of drug delivery is that it could avoid the side effects associated with existing painkillers. There is a massive need for more effective, side-effect-free painkillers for the millions of people in the UK with arthritis who are living in chronic pain with little relief available.”