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hand osteoarthritis DMARDs

Anti-inflammatory Drug Doesn’t Help Hand OA

A new study found that hydroxychloroquine, a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus, does not reduce pain related to osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand, possibly ending the hope for an easy solution to a challenging problem.

Pain from hand OA affects an estimated 3 percent to 15 percent of adults over 60 and up to 31 percent of those over 70, making daily tasks difficult and diminishing quality of life. Increasing evidence suggests that low levels of inflammation may be an important source of pain in hand OA, at least in some people. Few medications are effective for hand OA other than traditional pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), acetaminophen and, in more intractable cases, opioids – all of which have side effects and can’t be used in certain populations. Researchers have been looking for other treatments.

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