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04-03-2017 | Osteoarthritis | Review | Article

Move it or Lose it. Is it Reasonable for Older Adults with Osteoarthritis to Continue to Use Paracetamol in Order to Maintain Physical Activity?

Drugs & Aging

Authors: Kayla Lee, Julie Cooke, Gabrielle Cooper, Alison Shield

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


Osteoarthritis is a common progressive disease in older adults, and those affected often have impaired physical function, co-existing disease states, and reduced quality of life. In patients with osteoarthritis, pain is reported as a primary cause of mobility limitation, and guidelines recommend a mix of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies for pain management. The benefits of exercise in the management of osteoarthritis are well established; however, pain appears to be the biggest barrier to patients engaging in, and adhering to, physical activity programs. Attitudes towards the use of pain medications differ widely, and lack of efficacy or fear of side effects may lead to sub-therapeutic dosing. Furthermore, a recent review suggesting that short-term paracetamol use is ineffective for osteoarthritis has added to the confusion. This narrative review investigates limitations of current medications, summarizes patient attitudes toward the use of analgesics for osteoarthritis pain (with a focus on paracetamol), and explores the uptake of physical activity for osteoarthritis management. Evidence suggests that, despite clear guidelines, symptoms of osteoarthritis generally remain poorly managed. More research is required to investigate clinical outcomes in patients with osteoarthritis through optimized medication plans to better understand whether longer-term analgesic use in conjunction with physical activity can assist patients to overcome mobility limitations.

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