Recent data show that a drug called colchicine may help to control osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis means that a person loses cartilage and has pain in the joints and doctors don't know the cause. The standard treatment for osteoarthritis is medications to control pain, such as Celebrex, Vioxx, or Naprosin (Note: Vioxx was removed from the US market in 2004; others now contain warnings). If these medications don't control pain, doctors sometimes inject cortisone-type drugs into the painful joints.

In India colchicine is used to treat gout, a type of arthritis caused by crystals forming in joint fluid. The crystals cause swelling and pain. A study done there tried colchicine for patients with severe osteoarthritis, along with cortisone-type injections into the joints. Patients receiving colchicine with the injections improved far more than those who received only the injections. While this is not a cure, it may help to relieve some of the misery caused by osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage A randomized controlled trial to evaluate the slow-acting symptom modifying effects of a regimen containing colchicine in a subset of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. S. K. Das, K. Mishra, S. Ramakrishnan, R. Srivastava, G. G. Agarwal, R. Singh, A. R. Sircar. p 247-252, Volume 10, Number 4, April 2002

Written 6/29/02; checked 8/9/05

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