Motrin is a bad news drug. While it works well enough for aches and pains, it also more than triples your risk of dying from a sudden heart attack. Is there an alternative therapy for knee arthritis? A recent study compared Motrin to gel shots and found that these knee injections were safer.
Somewhere in the past two decades a medical tragedy occurred. Pharma companies lobbied for and got Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) inserted into musculoskeletal injury guidelines. In fact, they have become so pervasive, that 99% of the patients I meet believe that these are safe and effective drugs for treating their chronic arthritis pain. Regrettably, so do their doctors. However, the American Heart Association, knowing that drugs like Motrin, Aleve, and Celebrex have serious heart side effects has begun a campaign to educate physicians to curtail their use. So on the one hand we have family physicians and orthopedic surgeons pushing to put Motrin in the drinking water, while we have cardiologists who realize that there are serious and life threatening Motrin side effects.
As an alternative to Motrin, knee gel injections are a synthetic version of the natural lubricant found in the knee. They work by both cushioning the joint as we as improving the toxic environment of an arthritic knee. This substance is commonly injected once a week for 3-5 weeks and lasts from 3-12 months.
The new study randomly assigned 100 patients to receive either a Motrin type NSAID drug three times a day for 5 weeks or a series of knee gel injections once a week for 5 weeks. As far as pain reduction and outcome were concerned the two were similar. However, the knee gel injections had significantly fewer side effects.
The upshot? Motrin and drugs like it are bad news. If you have knee arthritis, there’s really no rationale to take these dangerous drugs on an ongoing basis when knee gel injections are much safer. If knee gel shots fail, consider newer biologic therapies like platelets or stem cells.