New "miracle drug" may not be answer

A WARRNAMBOOL physiotherapist is urging caution when it comes to those hoping to source a “miracle drug” for osteoarthritis treatment.

Over the weekend, metropolitan news sources were lauding the healing powers of the drug Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium.

Long used to treat blood clots and urinary tract infections in women, 30 people suffering from osteoarthritis has been treated with the drug with 70 per cent reporting a reduction in pain. 

There has been no double blind placebo controlled trial of the medicine and the use of the drug in relation to osteoarthritis is still in the early trial stage.

Toby Pettigrew from Warrnambool Physiotherapy Centre warned against hysteria.

“I think these reports need to be taken with a pinch of salt,” Mr Pettigrew said.

“They talk about isolated cases and that can give people false hope.

“There are a lot of stories about wonder drugs that come up and people are drawn to them because as a society, we love a quick fix.

“If these drugs are proven to be successful then they will become available on the mainstream market.” 

Mr Pettigrew said there are rarely shortcuts when it comes to conditions such as osteoarthritis.

“When people are in pain they will try anything, espcieally if it is long-term pain,” Mr Pettigrew said.

“But with osteoarthritis, the only magic pill is a good diet and exercising right.

“Rarely is osteoarthritis just about bone of bone, if you stay mobile and active and keep your weight down it can greatly reduce the amount of pain.

“Using this drug as a new treatment is still very much in the trial stage.”

Supporters of the use of Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium for osteoarthritis treatment believe the drug has the potential to significantly reduce the need for hip and knee replacements. 

While osteoarthritis occurs in all ages, the over 65 age group is the most prolific sufferer of the condition.

Risk factors include increasing age, obesity, previous joint injury and overuse of the joint.

Osteoarthritis can also be a genetic condition. 

It is estimated that one in two adults will develop symptoms of knee osteoarthritis during their lifetime while one in four will develop symptoms of hip osteoarthritis by age 85.

One in 12 people aged 60 years or older have hand osteoarthritis.