According to the study conducted by Theodore Blaine, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Columbia University Medical Center and an attending surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital sodium hyaluronate, a drug that is FDA-approved for osteoarthritis of the knee, is also effective for shoulder pain.
This study was mainly conducted after the rise in safety concerns surrounding Vioxx and other Cox-2 inhibitors. After that people went for surgery or took Advil which are two extremes.
The study was presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting in Chicago. FDA approved the drug's use in treating knee pain after it showed a50% success during the trail period. At present the FDA is currently reviewing the results in shoulder pain. Chronic shoulder pain is a common problem that is very difficult to treat.
According to the National Institute of Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, shoulder problems are experienced by 1.5 million people. The pain can be caused by a variety of problems, including osteoarthritis or rotator cuff tears. Sodium hyaluronate is a vital building block of normal cartilage.
It is marketed under the name Hyalgan by Sanofi Aventis. The participants of the study had previously tried nonsurgical clinical interventions like physical therapy, steroid injection, and oral pain medications but the pain persisted. The study patients received an x-ray of the shoulder to confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis and rule out other causes of the pain. The 602 patients were divided into three groups.
One group received five injections of the drug over six months. A second group received three injections, followed by two saline injections, and the third group received just a placebo of five saline injections. They were observed for a period of six months. Then the patients were asked to record their level of pain on a scale of one to 100. Patients with osteoarthritis who received sodium hyaluronate saw the greatest decrease in their pain scores, of 35 in six months.
The patients in the second group rated the pain around 37. The patients who received saline also saw a decrease, to around 43. The author says that the improvement in the saline group could be the result of the placebo effect. No safety concerns or side effects were seen during the study.