Approximately 14% of Canadians suffer from osteoarthritis. While there are currently 17 approved medications for preventing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, there are none for OA. This is a multidimensional disease and in the past there has been resistance to treating it early. Ideally, treatment should begin prior to the appearance of radiographic evidence (X-ray, ultrasound etc.), but this occurs rarely. The main preventative strategy for OA is exercise and weight reduction. The prevalence of OA of the knee is expected to rise due to age, obesity, and sports injuries.
A new medication, Zilretta, is coming. This is a long-acting corticosteroid (triamcinolone acetonide extended release injectable suspension) which is a single injection to manage the pain of OA in the knee. The injection continuously releases microspheres of the medication into the knee for approximately 3 months. Side effects tend to be mild and include sinusitis, cough, and contusions. It was approved by the US FDA in October 2017. This non-opioid medication that may have significant benefit for the pain associated with OA of the knee with greater effectiveness than our current shorter acting corticosteroid injections. Remember the number one thing you can do for your joints is to keep moving and injections such as the one mentioned above, can help decrease the pain to allow more movement to happen. Exercise is our best treatment.
Janice Maretzki, Charlton Health pharmacist, attended the Canadian Rheumatology Association Meeting in Montreal in February and prepared this summary of one of the sessions.