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Antibiotic Slows Joint Damage in Knees

But it did not relieve pain of osteoarthritis, study found

THURSDAY, July 7, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The tetracycline antibiotic doxycycline may slow the progression of joint damage in people with knee osteoarthritis, researchers report in the July issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

The study included 431 overweight women with moderate osteoarthritis in one knee who were randomly assigned to receive either 100 milligrams of doxycycline or a placebo twice a day for 30 months.

After 16 months of treatment, the people in the doxycycline group had 40 percent less mean loss of joint space within the diseased knee than those in the placebo group. After 30 months, it was 33 percent less.

However, even though it slowed disease progression, doxycycline did not reduce the severity of joint pain. The study also found that doxycycline seemed to have no effect on joint space narrowing or pain in the relatively disease-free knees of the women.

The study authors concluded that doxycycline did show benefits in slowing the rate of joint space narrowing in knees with established osteoarthritis. However, further research is needed to determine whether the drug had any value in the early treatment or management of osteoarthritis symptoms.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about knee osteoarthritis .

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, July 2005
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