Methotrexate May Relieve Pain in Hand Arthritis

Methotrexate, a drug used for decades to treat certain cancers as well as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, may also help relieve pain caused by hand osteoarthritis, a new study suggests.

Researchers randomly assigned 97 adults with hand osteoarthritis (OA) and inflammation to take a 20-milligram methotrexate pill or a placebo once weekly for six months. While pain improved initially for both groups, it eased significantly more by the end of the study for people taking methotrexate, according to results published in The Lancet.

Overall, pain improved twice as much with methotrexate as it did without the drug, the study found.

“We know that inflammation in hand OA causes pain and joint damage,” says senior study author Flavia Cicuttini, PhD, a professor and head of the musculoskeletal unit at Monash University and the rheumatology department at Alfred Hospital, both in Melbourne, Australia.

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