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An Osteoarthritis Pain Trial Takes a Knee

By April 15, 2023Commentary

The latest in my never-ending series on failed health improvement interventions.  Many middle-aged and older Americans have osteoarthritis, a painful inflammation of joints, and if they are overweight, the stress on joints can add to the pain.  While drugs help, I am a firm believer that we could benefit from a lot less medication use in this country.  So efforts to find other ways to address issues like joint point are good.  But they need to work.  This randomized trial examined use of a diet and exercise intervention to reduce knee pain.  The primary outcome was score on a knee pain scale, and secondary outcomes included weight loss.  After 18 months there was a statistically significant but small lessening of knee pain.   There was also a significant weight reduction and comparative improvement on some other secondary outcome measures.  But the authors themselves note that the changes in pain scores and other outcomes had an unclear clinical meaning, i.e., not apparent if it made a lot of difference in patients’ health.  But again, I would say, exercise and a good diet are important and if there are interventions that encourage them, they are worth trying regardless of ultimate health impact.   (JAMA Study)

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