Pain is the predominant reason for seeking treatment in patients with osteoarthritis. Management is multifactorial, involving psychological, physical, pharmaceutical, and sometimes surgical measures. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents play a valuable role in the overall treatment program. A review of 28 clinical trials involving ibuprofen for osteoarthritis shows sometimes conflicting results in efficacy, often because of inadequacies in study design or dosage. In fact, 17 of these 28 studies employed doses of less than 1,600 mg/day. Nonetheless, several trends are clear. Ibuprofen at a dose of over 1,200 mg daily was superior to placebo and at doses of 1,200 to 1,800 mg/day was as effective or more effective than 3,200 to 3,600 mg/day of aspirin or 4,500 mg/day of aspirin plus acetaminophen. In trials with a wide variety of other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ibuprofen was often as effective as the comparison agent. Tolerability was consistently excellent with ibuprofen, and adverse reactions were few.
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