This existing type 2 diabetes drug may be a potential treatment for osteoarthritis

Dec 20, 2022
Osteoarthritis affects over 2 million Australians and is one of the most common types of arthritis. Source: Getty

Researchers have discovered that a medication commonly prescribed to those with type 2 diabetes could soon be offered to people with osteoarthritis to help reduce their likelihood of joint replacement surgery.

According to studies conducted by Australian and international researchers, patients with type 2 diabetes taking metformin were found to have a reduced risk of joint replacements than those without diabetes and not taking the drug.

Their findings have encouraged researchers to conduct further studies in order to determine if metformin could indeed be another effective treatment for those diagnosed with osteoarthritis (AO).

Over 40,000 individuals, with an average age of 63, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between the years 2000 to 2012 were involved in the study. Half of them received metformin, while the other half didn’t.

After 14 years, the researchers found that 837 participants had knee replacement and 148 had hip replacement surgery due to osteoarthritis, nothing that those using metformin had a lower occurrence of either.

“We found that metformin use in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus was associated with a significantly reduced risk of joint replacement, suggesting a potential therapeutic effect of metformin in patients with OA,” they wrote.

“Randomised controlled clinical trials are warranted to determine whether metformin is effective in patients with OA.”

Film x-ray of a knee joint with arthritis. Source: Getty 

Speaking to Healthline, Dr Medhat Mikhael says the study offers “exciting findings”.

“Diabetes is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis and most studies show that patients with insulin resistance diabetes are more prone to the development of it,” she said.

“I believe it’s [metformin’s] anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects that help reduce the synovitis and cartilage degradation.”

Sharing similar sentiments is Dr Adam Rivadeneyra, a sports medicine physician, who also told the publication “osteoarthritis is such a large-scale problem that it would be wonderful to identify different treatment options that might help decrease symptoms and the need for surgical treatments.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, OA is “a chronic condition characterised by the breakdown of the cartilage that overlies the ends of bones in joints. This results in the bones rubbing together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion.”

OA generally worsens over time and can affect fine motor skills. It is also one of the most common types of arthritis in Australia, affecting more than 2 million Australians and is most commonly seen in older adults aged 75 and older.

 

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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