People in the Harrogate area who have osteoarthritis of the knee are being invited to take part in a national charity-funded clinical trial to find a more effective treatment.
The Arthritis Research UK clinical trial aims to find up to 160 people to take part around the country, eight of whom will be recruited at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.
The trial will establish if a drug called methotrexate, commonly taken by people with rheumatoid arthritis, can also be effective in treating osteoarthritis: a completely different condition.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common condition of the joints, affecting around six million people in the UK, and caused largely by degeneration of cartilage at the ends of bones, and also inflammation, leading to pain and stiffness.
“Current treatment for knee osteoarthritis are limited in that they only work for short periods and are not suitable for many people,” explained Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust Rheumatologist Dr Andrew Gough, who is leading the local arm of the trial.
“As a result, they often live with severe pain and have significant difficulty in carrying out their normal day-to-day activities. There is therefore an urgent need to find new and better ways of managing their pain.”
Methotrexate is successfully and widely used to treat inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, which is a serious auto-immune condition.
Recent studies have suggested that inflammation is also important in causing pain in osteoarthritis. Pilot studies which showed that 37% of patients with knee osteoarthritis who took methotrexate had a 40% reduction in their pain. These results have enabled a larger study to recruit more patients.
The clinical trial at Harrogate District Hospital will recruit people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee, who are not getting benefit from traditional treatments such as painkillers. Half of those recruited will take methotrexate for 12 months and the other half will take a placebo tablet. All patients will have an MRI image taken of their knee, and fill in a questionnaire every three months.