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Knee Arthritis Pain Could be Effectively Treated with Sugar Injections

Update Date: May 21, 2013 02:22 PM EDT

Arthritis is a type of joint disorder in which the joints become inflamed, resulting in pain even when the slightest pressure is placed. Although there are several medical options available, particularly drugs, a new research study concluded that alternative medicines could be equally as effective. The particular treatment option that the researchers focused on is dextrose prolotherapy, which has existed for around 75 years. This type of alternative therapy injects a sugar solution into the knees, and from this study, the solution appears to alleviate knee pain and stiffness.

"Our study suggests very strongly that prolotherapy is a safe and appropriate therapy for people with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis that hasn't responded optimally to other therapy," said lead researcher Dr. David Rabago. Rabago is an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

The research team recruited 90 patients with knee arthritis. These participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group received knee injections of the sugar solution, the second group received a saline injection and the last group was instructed to exercise. The first two groups that required injections received them at weeks one, five and nine, and then 13 and 17 as well if needed. The researchers followed the participants for a year and discovered that the group receiving the sugar solution reported feeling less pain and improved function in comparison to the other two groups.

The researchers used measurement tests to conclude their findings. They reported that sugar-solution patients had an improvement score of 16 points, whereas the scores for the saline group and the exercise group were five and seven respectively. There were also no adverse side effects reported in the sugar-solution group. Despite these findings, some experts are still not sold on this kind of therapy.

The researchers believe that some people might not be convinced due to the fact that there is no biological evidence that the sugar-solution treats inflammation. In this study, no evidence was found as well.

The study was published in the Annals of Family Medicine

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