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Nutritional Modulators of Pain in the Aging Population

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Abstract

It is believed that 40–60% of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions. Of these Americans, 30% cite pain as the primary condition being treated. The clinical use of nutritional modulators as a treatment of pain has been widely studied. Pain states such as myalgias from statin use, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, and osteoarthritis, just to name a few, have been investigated. Strong evidence supports the use of probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, glucosamine/chondroitin, and vitamin D in a variety of pain states. Other modulators including turmeric, devil’s claw, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Boswellia, white willow bark, and green tea have contradictory or minimal evidence to support their use for pain relief. Despite the medical evidence or lack thereof, passionate consumers continue to utilize these modulators as supplements or alternatives to traditional pharmacotherapy.

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... The presence of salicin made the herbal product act as a pain reliever. Similar to aspirin, it also inhibits COX 1 and 2 and therefore blocks PGs and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent [71][72]. But unlike aspirin which is known to cause gastric problems, the presence of a gastroprotective agent reduces the damage of gastrointestinal mucosa [73]. ...
... The salicin component in herbal products has been effective in relieving pain. Similar to aspirin, it also inhibits COX-1 and COX-2 and therefore acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by blocking PGs [71][72]. But unlike aspirin which is known to cause gastric problems, it reduces the damage of gastrointestinal mucosa [73]. ...
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... It is a precursor to acetylsalicylic acid and has documented anti-inflammatory properties [12], including an inhibitory effect on TNF-a [13]. Whereas TNF-a inhibitors are typically administered via injection, salicin is ingested [14] and has no noted serious side effects [15,16], fewer even than its synthetic counterpart, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), all of which can damage the gastrointestinal mucosa [17]. ...
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The role of calcifediol in the perception of chronic pain is a widely discussed subject. Low serum levels of calcifediol are especially common in patients with severe pain and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). We lack evidence of the role of vitamin D supplementation in these patients. To our knowledge, no randomized controlled trial has been published on the subject. Thirty women with FMS according to the 1990 and 2010 American College of Rheumatology criteria, with serum calcifediol levels <32ng/mL (80nmol/L), were randomized to treatment group (TG) or control group (CG). The goal was to achieve serum calcifediol levels between 32 and 48ng/mL for 20weeks via oral supplementation with cholecalciferol. The CG received placebo medication. Re-evaluation was performed in both groups after a further 24weeks without cholecalciferol supplementation. The main hypothesis was that high levels of serum calcifediol should result in a reduction of pain (visual analog scale score). Additional variables were evaluated using the Short Form Health Survey 36, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, and the Somatization subscale of Symptom Checklist-90-Revised. A marked reduction in pain was noted over the treatment period in TG: a 2 (groups)×4 (time points) variance analysis showed a significant group effect in visual analog scale scores. This also was correlated with scores on the physical role functioning scale of the Short Form Health Survey 36. Optimization of calcifediol levels in FMS had a positive effect on the perception of pain. This economical therapy with a low side effect profile may well be considered in patients with FMS. However, further studies with larger patient numbers are needed to prove the hypothesis.
Article
Study objective: Efficacy and safety of willow bark extract for pain reduction in patients suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) has been shown in clinical short term trials. Therefore this observational study over 6 months should evaluate patterns of treatments like mono- or combinations therapy, dosage and safety during long-term treatment under pragmatic conditions with the aqueous willow bark extract STW 33-I, (Proaktiv(®); drug-extract-ratio 16-23:1). Patients and methods: The patients were treated with STW 33-I; comedication with other NSAIDs and opioids was allowed. An extensive case report form including pain questionnaires and patient diary was used for outcome evaluation. Results: Four hundred and thirty-six patients with rheumatic pain mainly due to osteoarthritis (56.2%) and back pain (59.9%) were included. During the study the mean reductions from baseline value 58.4±22.6-31.8±22.5 after 24 weeks in the pain intensity scale (VAS 0-100mm) were significant even after 3 weeks with a reduction by 26 mm (45.6% of the baseline value) at the end of the study. The relative reductions of the weekly means of the daily patient self-rated scores of the pain (6-point Likert-scales) were between 33% and 44% of the baseline values during the course of the study. We present results of subgroups according their analgetic/antiphlogistic comedication. The distribution and specification of the main adverse events and the ratings of the treatment showed a good tolerability. No relevant drug interactions were reported. Conclusion: These data suggest that STW 33-I can be used as a basic treatment in the long-term therapy of painful musculoskeletal disorders and that it can be combined with NSAIDs and opioids if necessary.
Article
Hypovitaminosis D in the elderly causes falls and fractures as a result of impaired neuromuscular functions and also may be a reason for nonspecific musculosceletal pain. The aim of this study is to investigate the benefits of a single dose per os or parenterally administrated vitamin D on increasing the quality of life and functional mobility and decreasing the pain in the elderly. The community-dwelling elderly subjects over 65 years age were included in the study. The subjects were given 300.000 IU Vitamin D via per os and parenteral route and assessed after 4 weeks. The serum creatinine, calcium, phosphorous, ALT, ALP, 24-h urine calcium excretion, PTH, and vitamin D levels, as well as VAS (visual analog scale) for pain assessment, functional mobility with TUG (timed up and go test) and quality of life with SF-36 before and after the treatment were evaluated. The serum vitamin D levels were measured by the RIA method. The subjects were divided into four groups each consisting of 30 subjects. The 1st group took i.m. vitamin D, the 2nd group took i.m. placebo, the 3rd group took p.o. vitamin D, and the 4th group took p.o. placebo. The mean age of all the participants was 70.1 ± 4.3 years. There was no difference in the age and gender between the groups (P > 0.05). After treatment, the PTH level of first group was decreased (P = 0.0001) and the vitamin D level increased (P = 0.0001) significantly. In the third group, the PTH level of first group was decreased (P = 0.0001) and the vitamin D level increased (P = 0.004) and the 24-h calcium excretion in urine (P = 0.015) increased significantly. When the pain, the functional mobility, and the quality of life were evaluated, in the first group, the TUG (P = 0.0001) and the VAS (P = 0.0001) decreased significantly, whereas the SF-36 subtitles: physical functioning (P = 0.0001), role physical (0.006), bodily pain (P = 0.0001), general health (P = 0.007), social functioning (P = 0.05), and mental health (P = 0.048) increased significantly. In group two, the VAS (P = 0.001) decreased, the role physical (P = 0.009), and role emotional (P = 0.034) increased significantly; In group three, the TUG (P = 0.0001) and the VAS (P = 0.002) decreased, whereas the physical function (P = 0.0001) and role physical (0.001) increased significantly; In group four, the VAS (P = 0.007) decreased significantly. The megadose vitamin D administration increases quality of life, decreases pain, and improves functional mobility via po or im route in the elderly.
Article
The use of both over-the-counter and prescription nonsteroidal medications is frequently recommended in a typical neurosurgical practice. But persistent long-term use safety concerns must be considered when prescribing these medications for chronic and degenerative pain conditions. This article is a literature review of the biochemical pathways of inflammatory pain, the potentially serious side effects of nonsteroidal drugs and commonly used and clinically studied natural alternative anti-inflammatory supplements. Although nonsteroidal medications can be effective, herbs and dietary supplements may offer a safer, and often an effective, alternative treatment for pain relief, especially for long-term use.
Article
The authors used the blind method for evaluation of the morphological picture of the joints and the level of circulating immune complexes to study the effect of prolonged oral administration of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and its main metabolite dimethyl sulfone on the development of spontaneous arthritis in 36 Mrl/Mn/lnr female mice. It was found that DMSO and dimethyl sulfone lessen the destructive changes in the joints, while DMSO also inhibits the manifestation of immune disorders, i. e. produces a "basal" effect on the course of spontaneous chronic arthritis in experimental animals.
Article
Twenty-four patients (9 M and 15 F, age range 51-82) with polymyalgia rheumatica receiving 6-methylprednisolone for a period of 9 months (16 mg/daily/two weeks, 14 mg/daily/two weeks, 12 mg/daily/1 month, 10 mg/daily/1 month, 8 mg/daily/1 month, 6 mg/daily/1 month and 4 mg/daily for the last four months) were randomly assigned to receive either 250HD3 (35 mcg/day for 25 days/month) (Group A) or placebo (Group B) in a double-blind study. All patients also received 500 mg elemental calcium daily. Before and at 3, 6 and 9 months ESR, tenderness on palpation and subjective pain were evaluated. At the same times, mineral metabolism parameters (serum calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, 24-h urinary calcium, phosphate and 24-h hydroxyproline excretion) and radial bone mineral content (BMC) were evaluated. Activity indexes (ESR and clinical parameters) improved in both groups. Furthermore, serum alkaline phosphatase and 24-h hydroxyproline excretion decreased significantly only in Group A, and BMC decreased significantly in Group B but rose slightly in Group A. No side effects were observed in any of the patients.
Article
To study the long-term effects of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (omega 3) in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Ninety patients were enrolled in a 12-month, double-blind, randomized study comparing daily supplementations with either 2.6 gm of omega 3, or 1.3 gm of omega 3 + 3 gm of olive oil, or 6 gm of olive oil. Significant improvement in the patient's global evaluation and in the physician's assessment of pain was observed only in those taking 2.6 gm/day of omega 3. The proportions of patients who improved and of those who were able to reduce their concomitant antirheumatic medications were significantly greater with 2.6 gm/day of omega 3. Daily supplementation with 2.6 gm of omega 3 results in significant clinical benefit and may reduce the need for concomitant antirheumatic medication.
Article
The medicinal system of the Asháninka Indians in Perú is portrayed. Three categories of medical disorders and healers are recognized. A human is viewed to consist of a physical and a spiritual being who communicate with each other by means of a regulating element. The significance of Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC. (Rubiaceae), locally known as unã de gato, in traditional medicine is emphasized by its exclusive use by priests to influence this regulation. Pharmacological and toxicological results obtained with extracts or isolated compounds are summarized. Pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids stimulate endothelial cells in vitro to produce a lymphocyte-proliferation-regulating factor. Tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids act as antagonists. A significant normalization of lymphocyte percentage was observed in vivo although total leucocyte numbers did not change.
Article
Postanaesthesia care units used to echo with cries of patients in pain after general anaesthesia. Each as-needed dose of analgesia was given only after permission of the surgeon or anaesthesiologist. Once conscious, patients were required to request each subsequent analgesic dose until hospital discharge. Not surprisingly, nearly half the patients who have an operation experience moderate to severe pain after surgery. Acute pain control has advanced dramatically and is now a field with dedicated texts, journals, and research. Despite improved surgical techniques that have transformed many operations into same-day procedures, inadequately controlled pain may still extend the length of hospital stay and predispose to expensive, time-consuming complications such as pneumonia. Recognition of economic and humanitarian benefits of pain control has prompted worldwide attention from professional groups, insurers, and governments. This paper describes the process of acute pain and measures to control it with drugs or non-pharmacological interventions. Even brief intervals of acute pain can induce long-term neuronal remodelling and sensitisation ("plasticity"), chronic pain, and lasting psychologial distress. Hence, acute pain and other types of pain (cancer-related or chronic) that are classified as distinct actually have many similarities.
Article
Herbal medicines are widely used for the treatment of pain, although there is not much information on their effectiveness. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of willow (Salix) bark extract, which is widely used in Europe, for the treatment of low back pain. We enrolled 210 patients with an exacerbation of chronic low back pain who reported current pain of 5 or more (out of 10) on a visual analog scale. They were randomly assigned to receive an oral willow bark extract with either 120 mg (low dose) or 240 mg (high dose) of salicin, or placebo, with tramadol as the sole rescue medication, in a 4-week blinded trial. The principal outcome measure was the proportion of patients who were pain-free without tramadol for at least 5 days during the final week of the study. The treatment and placebo groups were similar at baseline in 114 of 120 clinical features. A total of 191 patients completed the study. The numbers of pain-free patients in the last week of treatment were 27 (39%) of 65 in the group receiving high-dose extract, 15 (21%) of 67 in the group receiving low-dose extract, and 4 (6%) of 59 in the placebo group (P <0.001). The response in the high-dose group was evident after only 1 week of treatment. Significantly more patients in the placebo group required tramadol (P <0.001) during each week of the study. One patient suffered a severe allergic reaction, perhaps to the extract. Willow bark extract may be a useful and safe treatment for low back pain.
Article
In a double-blind, randomized, multicentre clinical study, the efficacy and tolerance of a herbal medicine product, Harpadol (6 capsules/day, each containing 435 mg of powdered cryoground powder Harpagophytum procumbens), was compared with diacerhein 100 mg/day in the treatment, for 4 months, of 122 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee and hip. Assessments of pain and functional disability were made on a 10 cm horizontal visual analogue scale; severity of osteoarthritis was evaluated by Lequesne's index. Spontaneous pain showed a significant improvement during the course of the study and there was no difference in the efficacy of the two treatments. Similarly, there was a progressive and significant reduction in the Lequesne functional index and no statistical difference was found between Harpadol and diacerhein. At completion of the study, patients taking Harpadol were using significantly less NSAIDs and antalgic drugs. The frequency of adverse events was significantly lower in the Harpadol group. The most frequent event reported was diarrhea, occurring in 8.1% and 26.7% of Harpadol and diacerhein patients respectively. The global tolerance assessment by patients at the end of treatment favoured Harpadol. The results of this study demonstrate that Harpadol is comparable in efficacy and superior in safety to diacerhein.
Article
This study assessed the clinical efficacy of a chemically standardized willow bark extract in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Willow bark extract, in a dose corresponding to 240 mg salicin/day, was compared with placebo in a 2-week, double-blind, randomized controlled trial. The primary outcome measure was the pain dimension of the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index. Secondary outcome measures included the stiffness and physical function dimensions of the WOMAC, daily visual analogue scales (VAS) on pain and physical function, and final overall assessments by both patients and investigators. A total of 78 patients (39 willow bark extract, 39 placebo) participated in the trial. A statistically significant difference between the active treatment and the placebo group was observed in the WOMAC pain dimension (d = 6.5 mm, 95% C.I. = 0.2-12.7 mm, p = 0.047); the WOMAC pain score was reduced by 14% from the baseline level after 2 weeks of active treatment, compared with an increase of 2% in the placebo group. The patient diary VAS confirmed this result, and likewise the final overall assessments showed superiority of the willow bark extract over the placebo (patients' assessment, p = 0.0002; investigators' assessment, p = 0.0073). It is concluded that the willow bark extract showed a moderate analgesic effect in osteoarthritis and appeared to be well tolerated.
Article
Besides checking estimates of effectiveness and safety of using the proprietary Harpagophytum extract Doloteffin, this postmarketing surveillance compared various disease-specific* and generic** measures of effect. We enrolled 250 patients suffering from nonspecific low back pain (Back group: n = 104) or osteoarthritic pain in the knee (Knee group: n = 85) or hip (Hip group: n = 61). They took an 8-week course of Doloteffin at a dose providing 60 mg harpagoside per day. The measures of effect on pain and disability included the percentage changes from baseline of established instruments (Arhus low back pain index*, WOMAC index*, German version of the HAQ**) and unvalidated measures (total pain index*, three score index*, the patient's global assessment** of the effectiveness of treatment). Patients also received a diary for the daily recording of their pain and any additional treatments for it. The three groups differed in age, weight and characteristics of initial pain. 227 patients completed the study. Multivariate analysis confirmed that several dimensions of effect were recorded by the several outcome measures but, in all groups, both the generic and disease-specific outcome measures improved by week 4 and further by 8. In multivariable analysis, the improvement tended to be more when the initial pain and disability score was more: older patients tended to improve less than younger, the hip group tended to improve convincingly more than the back group, whereas the improvement in the knee group was less readily differentiated from that in the back group. The subgroup of Back patients who required NSAIDs during the 8 weeks used significantly more per patient than patients in the other two groups, but that requirement also declined more with time. About 10% of the patients suffered from minor adverse events that could possibly have been attributable to Doloteffin. Between 50% and 70% of the patients benefitted from Doloteffin with few adverse effects. Thus, Doloteffin is well worth considering for osteoarthritic knee and hip pain and nonspecific low back pain.
Article
To assess whether, in children, oral magnesium oxide reduces migrainous headache frequency, severity, and associated features compared to placebo. There is no single, safe, widely well-tolerated, and effective prophylactic treatment for all children and adolescents with frequent migrainous headache. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. This study was conducted between June 1997 and January 2000 using 7 selected Northern California Kaiser Permanente sites. We recruited children of ages 3 to 17 years who reported a 4-week history of at least weekly, moderate-to-severe headache with a throbbing or pulsatile quality, associated anorexia/nausea, vomiting, photophobia, sonophobia, or relief with sleep, but no fever or evidence of infection. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either magnesium oxide (9 mg/kg per day by mouth divided 3 times a day with food) (n = 58) or matching placebo (n = 60) for 16 weeks. The number of headache days (days with at least one headache) during each of eight 2-week intervals was chosen to be the primary outcome variable. Of those enrolled, 86 (73%) completed the study (42 received magnesium oxide and 44 placebo); 74 of 192 eligible subjects declined to participate. Baseline information on demographic factors, health status, and headache history was similar comparing the 2 groups. By intention-to-treat analysis, we found a statistically significant decrease over time in headache frequency in the magnesium oxide group (P =.0037) but not in the placebo group (P =.086), although the slopes of these 2 lines were not statistically significantly different from each other (P =.88). The group treated with magnesium oxide had significantly lower headache severity (P =.0029) relative to the placebo group. This study does not unequivocally determine whether oral magnesium oxide is or is not superior to placebo in preventing frequent migrainous headache in children, but treatment with the active agent did lead to a significant reduction in headache days. Larger trials involving this safe, appealing complementary therapy are needed.
Article
Harpagophytum procumbens (Pedaliaceae) has been used for the treatment of pain and arthritis. The effect of Harpagophytum procumbens against lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation was investigated using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) immunoassay, and nitric oxide detection on mouse fibroblast cell line L929. The aqueous extract of Harpagophytum procumbens was shown to suppress PGE(2) synthesis and nitric oxide production by inhibiting lipopolysaccharide-stimulated enhancement of the cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNAs expressions in L929 cells. These results suggest that Harpagophytum procumbens exerts anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects probably by suppressing cyclooxygenase-2 and iNOS expressions.
Article
Between 40% and 60% of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine to manage medical conditions, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFAs) have been used to treat joint pain associated with several inflammatory conditions. We conducted a meta-analysis of 17 randomized, controlled trials assessing the pain relieving effects of omega-3 PUFAs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or joint pain secondary to inflammatory bowel disease and dysmenorrhea. Meta-analysis was conducted with Cochrane Review Manager 4.2.8. for six separate outcomes using standardized mean differences (SMDs) as a measure of effect size: (1) patient assessed pain, (2) physician assessed pain, (3) duration of morning stiffness, (4) number of painful and/or tender joints, (5) Ritchie articular index, and (6) nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug consumption. Supplementation with omega-3 PUFAs for 3-4 months reduces patient reported joint pain intensity (SMD: -0.26; 95% CI: -0.49 to -0.03, p=0.03), minutes of morning stiffness (SMD: -0.43; 95% CI: -0.72 to -0.15, p=0.003), number of painful and/or tender joints (SMD: -0.29; 95% CI: -0.48 to -0.10, p=0.003), and NSAID consumption (SMD: -0.40; 95% CI: -0.72 to -0.08, p=0.01). Significant effects were not detected for physician assessed pain (SMD: -0.14; 95% CI: -0.49 to 0.22, p=0.45) or Ritchie articular index (SMD: 0.15; 95% CI: -0.19 to 0.49, p=0.40) at 3-4 months. The results suggest that omega-3 PUFAs are an attractive adjunctive treatment for joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and dysmenorrhea.
Article
Objective: Glucosamine, classified as a slow-acting drug in osteoarthritis (SADOA), is an efficacious chondroprotective agent. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), the isoxidised form of dimethyl-sulfoxide (DSMO), is an effective natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of oral glucosamine (Glu), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), their combination and placebo in osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients and design: A total of 118 patients of either sex with mild to moderate osteoarthritis were included in the study and randomised to receive either Glu 500mg, MSM 500mg, Glu and MSM or placebo capsules three times daily for 12 weeks. Patients were evaluated at 0 (before drug administration), 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks post-treatment for efficacy and safety. The efficacy parameters studied were the pain index, the swelling index, visual analogue scale pain intensity, 15m walking time, the Lequesne index, and consumption of rescue medicine. Results: Glu, MSM and their combination significantly improved signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis compared with placebo. There was a statistically significant decrease in mean (+/- SD) pain index from 1.74 +/- 0.47 at baseline to 0.65 +/- 0.71 at week 12 with Glu (p < 0.001). MSM significantly decreased the mean pain index from 1.53 +/- 0.51 to 0.74 +/- 0.65, and combination treatment resulted in a more significant decrease in the mean pain index (1.7 +/- 0.47 to 0.36 +/- 0.33; p < 0.001). After 12 weeks, the mean swelling index significantly decreased with Glu and MSM, while the decrease in swelling index with combination therapy was greater (1.43 +/- 0.63 to 0.14 +/- 0.35; p < 0.05) after 12 weeks. The combination produced a statistically significant decrease in the Lequesne index. All treatments were well tolerated. Conclusion: Glu, MSM and their combination produced an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect in osteoarthritis. Combination therapy showed better efficacy in reducing pain and swelling and in improving the functional ability of joints than the individual agents. All the treatments were well tolerated. The onset of analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity was found to be more rapid with the combination than with Glu. It can be concluded that the combination of MSM with Glu provides better and more rapid improvement in patients with osteoarthritis.
Article
To investigate the efficacy and tolerability of a 3-month duration, twice a-year, intermittent treatment with oral chondroitin sulfate (CS) in knee osteoarthritis (OA) patients. A total of 120 patients with symptomatic knee OA were randomized into two groups receiving either 800mg CS or placebo (PBO) per day for two periods of 3 months during 1 year. Primary efficacy outcome was Lequesne's algo-functional index (AFI); secondary outcome parameters included VAS, walking time, global judgment, and paracetamol consumption. Radiological progression was assessed by automatic measurement of medial femoro-tibial joint space width on weight-bearing X-rays of both knees. Clinical and biological tolerability was assessed. One hundred and ten of 120 patients were included in the ITT analysis. AFI decreased significantly by 36% in the CS group after 1 year as compared to 23% in the PBO group. Similar results were found for the secondary outcomes parameters. Radiological progression at month 12 showed significantly decreased joint space width in the PBO group with no change in the CS group. Tolerability was good with only minor adverse events identically observed in both groups. This study provides evidences that oral CS decreased pain and improved knee function. The 3-month intermittent administration of 800mg/day of oral CS twice a year does support the prolonged effect known with symptom-modifying agents for OA. The inhibitory effect of CS on the radiological progression of the medial femoro-tibial joint space narrowing could suggest further evidence of its structure-modifying properties in knee OA.
Vitamin D intoxication associated with an over-the-counter supplement
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