The usual form of treatment for relieving the pain associated with osteoarthritis involves taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Unfortunately, the medications can cause serious side-effects which may affect a person's renal, gastrointestinal, and even cardiac health.
Researchers at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, have conducted a study with the purpose of determining the safety and efficiency of turmeric extract in the reduction of pain and improvement of function in people who experience osteoarthritis in their knees. Turmeric contains curcumin, something that may provide relief. A researcher at the university stated, "The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in pain reduction and functional improvement in patients with knee osteoarthritis."
The research was conducted at Siriraj Hospital which is also located in Bangkok, and included adults who experience primary knee osteoarthritis as defined by the American Rheumatism Association. In order to be included in the study, the people involved had to have knee pain as well as radiographic osteophytes, along with at least one of the following characteristics:
People who reported a pain score of five of ten in a numerical rating scale were recruited. All of the people involved in the study were randomly allocated to receive either turmeric extract at five-hundred milligram curcuminoids, four times per day - or ibuprofin, an NSAID, at four-hundred milligrams twice daily. Participants were assessed at two week intervals, with the main outcomes measured in relation to their pain levels upon climbing stairs, walking, as well as their knee functioning by the time they spent on a one-hundred meter walk and going up and down ten steps.
Out of the one-hundred and ninety people who were screened for potential participation in the study, one-hundred and seven were selected. Fifty-two of them were randomly assigned to the curcuminoid group, and fifty-five to the ibuprofen group. Forty-five of the participants in the curcuminoid group and forty-six in the ibuprofen group completed the study.
The pain scores, on the stairs and on level walking, to include the time the participants spent on the one-hundred meter walk and the flight of stairs, were similar between the two groups. The report produced by the researchers states all outcomes in both groups at week six were significantly improved when compared with baseline values. As an example; from the beginning of the study through the sixth week, the scores of pain on level walking dropped from 5.3, 2.3 to 2.7, 2.5 for the curcumin group. For the ibuprofin group the pain on level walking dropped from 5.0, 1.9 to 3.1, 2.3. The difference between the two groups in relation to those parameters was not significant. The curcuminoid group seemed to spend less time on the one-hundred meter walk and going up and down a flight of stairs. There were no significant differences found in adverse events between the curcuminoid group and the ibuprofen group.
The participants in the curcuminoids group rated themselves, at ninety-one percent, as being moderately to highly satisfied with the results. The ibuprofen group, at eighty point four percent, stated they were moderately to highly satisfied with the results of their pain control. The researchers at Mahidol University concluded that turmeric and the curcumin within it, "seems to be similarly efficacious and safe as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis."
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15(8):891-897, 2009