Methotrexate seems to improve knee arthritis

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A widely available drug that is commonly used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis could be added to the arsenal of treatments for osteoarthritis after a new study had promising results.

Methotrexate is an immunosuppressant, so it slows down the immune system and helps reduce inflammation.

Three months of treatment with oral methotrexate, recently led to significant improvements in function and inflammation in a study of 344 people with knee osteoarthritis presented at an international conference. Interestingly, people who took glucosamine had no significant improvement in these measures of function and inflammation.

“Treatments offered to patients with primary knee osteoarthritis are usually physical support and knee replacement, which are basically directed to manage the effect of the disease,” explains Dr Biswadip Ghosh who is involved in the study. “Our study provides hope to patients not only from this inexpensive molecule, methotrexate, but other therapies directed towards one cause of the disease: inflammation. We should think of using methotrexate if we find signs of both local and systemic inflammation in patients with primary knee osteoarthritis when conventional therapies are not helpful.”

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