Chemist Direct discusses emerging alternative, cost-efficient means for arthritis pain relief

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Prescribed drugs currently used for arthritis pain relief has been known to raise the risk of heart attacks in one out of five people, specifically those who have had major operations in recent years. Now, according to Chemist Direct, scientists said they have found alternative remedies which can alleviate most pain with minimal side-effects.

Osteoarthritis remedies

Patient with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis affects almost half the UK’s older population. It develops as cartilage is worn down in the hips, knee and wrist joint and can make tasks like opening jars, holding cutlery and tying shoelaces near to impossible.

Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, such as when you walk. Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis, a related joint disease that now affects almost half the UK’s older population, develops as cartilage is worn down in the hips, knee and wrist joints. Debilitating stiffness in finger and thumb joints – the calling card of osteoarthritis – can make tasks like opening jars, holding cutlery and tying shoelaces near to impossible.

Lifestyle changes are the preferred treatment for osteoarthritis and other types of joint swelling. Exercise can help relieve stiffness, reduce pain and fatigue, and improve muscle and bone strength. Medicines may be prescribed along with lifestyle changes but all medicines have some risks. Scientists have also found a way to stop nerve cells in diseased joints sensing pain without inducing common side effects. They say their discovery could drastically cut the number of knee and hip replacements performed in Britain each year which is currently around 160,000, and costs the NHS almost £200million.

Danish researchers found the specially cultivated compound called Gopo reduced nagging pain in nine out of 10 of the 30 people who took part in clinical trials. These trials suggest this key ingredient of the rosehip plant may provide a breakthrough alternative treatment for six million Britons whose lives are blighted by joint pain. Pills containing the supplement are now available in the UK at a cost-efficient 15p each. The results of these investigations carried out at Frederiksberg University in Copenhagen and published in the Open Journal of Rheumatology and Autoimmune Disease show the natural extract of rosehip could offer the closest thing to a cure.

Botox, best known for smoothing out wrinkles, could also help soothe the pain of cancer, arthritis and migraines – without any side effects. The main ingredient of the Botox used to prevent wrinkles is a bacterial poison known as botulinum. Sheffield University researcher Professor Bazbek Davletov took the pain-relieving part of Botox and ‘stapled’ it to a friendly part of a similar poison produced by the tetanus bug. The tetanus toxin ferries the pain-reliever to the spinal cord, where it stops pain signals being sent to the brain.

Scientists from the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre at Nottingham University had impressive results in reducing joint pain by targeting a nerve cell pain receptor called TRPV1. This latest study was published in the March edition of the journal Annals Of The Rheumatic Diseases. Previous trials on osteoarthritis patients showed their pain could be cut by blocking the receptor using drugs called TRPV1 antagonists. But the patients experienced the side effect of hyperthermia in their digestive organs when the medicine was administered orally.

Neuroscience lecturer Dr Sara Kelly explained that the Nottingham team used a model of osteoarthritis pain to see if using the drugs within the joint itself would work better. Dr Kelly said: “A lot of patients who suffer with osteoarthritis are elderly and it would be better if we could treat their pain by giving them a drug, rather than putting them through a major surgical procedure like a joint replacement. By targeting the joint directly we did not see the side effect of hyperthermia.” The scientists said their work needs to be tested in patient trials.

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Samantha Smith
Chemist Direct
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