A study of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatorydrugs (NSAIDs) in patients with ankylosingspondylitis (AS), a form of arthritisthat targets the spine, shows that daily useof the painkiller can significantly slow theprogression of the disease—as opposedto taking it on an "as-needed" basis.
The 2-year study started with 215patients with AS. They were divided into2 groups: those in one group were prescribedtwice-daily use of NSAIDs, whilethose in the other group were told to takethe painkillers only when they experiencedpain or stiffness. The patientswere assessed at regular intervalsthroughout the study, and x-rays weretaken of their spines at both the start andthe end of the study.
Overall, the researchers found significantdifferences in x-ray evidence of diseaseprogression. Twice as many patientswho took NSAIDs only as neededscored moderate-to-high levels of spinalcord damage at the end of the study,compared with patients who took theNSAIDs every day. The investigators saidthat the findings may prove important forboth the treatment of AS and the use ofNSAIDs. The study results appear in theJune issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.