Osteoarthritis - 2001 National Meeting Reports (cont.)

Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market after the data safety monitoring board overseeing a long-term study of the drug recommended that the study be halted because of an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, among study patients taking Vioxx compared to patients receiving placebo. The study was being done in patients at risk of developing recurrent colon polyps.

Rates of swelling of the tissues (edema) and elevated blood pressure were reported as being significantly elevated in patients taking Vioxx in comparison with patients taking Celebrex. Although another study comparing rates of edema and high blood pressure to Naproxen showed no difference. 

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: I feel that Vioxx, like any NSAID, should be used with cautious observation in persons with heart or blood vessel conditions or a history of elevated blood pressure (hypertension).


In a unique study of almost 3,000 patients from Iceland, it was demonstrated that patients with symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hand were more related to each other genetically than other people. 

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: This study strongly supports the role of genes in determining who really develops osteoarthritis of the hands. (This is the first time I had ever spoken with someone who actually lived in Iceland!)


Quadriceps muscle (the muscle in the front of the thigh) weakness and obesity were related to an increase in the development of knee osteoarthritis with pain symptoms. 

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: It has long been known that obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knee. This study also provides a potential treatment avenue worth looking into-strengthening exercises for the quadriceps muscles of the front of the thigh.

In a study of total knee replacement in patients with severe osteoarthritis of this joint, it was demonstrated that the patient's overall sense of body pain and physical function significantly improved. 

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: Well, this is what doctors and patients hope to achieve with this procedure, which can be very gratifying for both in my experience.

For more, please see MedicineNet.com' s Osteoarthritis article.

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Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2004