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Can knee osteoarthritis be treated without using pain medication?

Knee osteoarthritis affects 14 million Americans, and opioids are often prescribed to reduce pain symptoms experienced by those suffering from this degenerative disease. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, despite the serious risks and lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.1

The number of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors' offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010,2,3 yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported.4,5 In addition, roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them,6 resulting in more than half a million people dying from drug overdoses in the United States from 2000 to 2015.5 These statistics represent a ballooning health epidemic that demands a solution.

To end this health crisis, we need to improve the way we treat pain, focusing on solutions that prevent abuse, addiction, and overdose before it starts.6

Pain from knee osteoarthritis is a result of worn down cartilage causing the bones to rub and grind against each other. While pain medications may be effective at masking the pain symptoms, they do nothing to address the biomechanical cause of joint pain. Conversely, Össur's Unloader® braces strategically apply a gentle controlling force to unload the affected, painful side of the knee joint. This biomechanical solution has been proven to reduce pain and improve function. Additionally, some patients report a reduction in pain medication use.7

Research conducted by The Steadman Clinic shows patients with knee OA reported improved quality of life and reduced use of pain medication, over the counter anti-inflammatories and prescription anti-inflammatories after they were prescribed Unloader braces.8

There are many factors contributing to the opioid health crisis, but knee OA does not have to be one of them. Learn more about our non-invasive, non-pharmacological solution for treating osteoarthritis: ossur.com/oa-solutions.

References

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on 11/20/2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prevention/index.html

2US Department of Justice. Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS). Springfield, VA: US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); 2011.

3Chang H, Daubresse M, Kruszewski S, et al. Prevalence and treatment of pain in emergency departments in the United States, 2000 - 2010. Amer J of Emergency Med 2014; 32(5): 421-31.

4Daubresse M, Chang H, Yu Y, Viswanathan S, et al. Ambulatory diagnosis and treatment of nonmalignant pain in the United States, 2000 - 2010. Medical Care 2013; 51(10): 870-878.

5Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths - United States, 2010-2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm655051e1.

6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on 11/20/2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prevention/index.html

7Briggs KK, Matheny LM, Steadman JR. Improvement in quality of life with use of an Unloader knee brace in active patients with OA: A prospective cohort study. J Knee Surg 2012; Advance online publication. Retrieved 23rd August 2012. DOI:10.1055/S-0032-1313748

8Briggs KK, Matheny LM, Steadman JR. Improvement in quality of life with use of an Unloader knee brace in active patients with OA: A prospective cohort study. J Knee Surg 2012; Advance online publication. Retrieved 23rd August 2012. DOI:10.1055/S-0032-1313748