London: Scientists have come up with a new pill which they claim could dramatically reduces knee pain in people suffering from osteoarthritis.
The debilitating condition is incurable and many sufferers are left to rely on anti-inflammatory painkillers that can cause stomach damage when used over longer time.
The other alternative is knee replacements.
Now, researchers have shown that a pill, called duloxetine, which costs 22 pounbs for a month`s supply, halved pain levels in patients.
In their study, the scientists gave one group of patients either a 60mg or 120mg daily dose of the drug for 13 weeks and another group an identical-looking placebo pill. They used a recognised scale to assess changes in pain levels during the experiment.
The duloxetine group in the University of Maryland study was 33 per cent more likely to see their pain levels drop by between a third and a half than those on the dummy tablet, according to a report in the latest Journal of Rheumatology.
The pill acts on neuro-transmitter chemicals in the brain and spinal cord. It is now thought that as well as acting as an antidepressant it can dampen down pain, possibly by blocking signals from reaching the brain.
However, a spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK said: "We know they have a propensity to modify back pain in particular but it`s not clear if they work well in peripheral joint osteoarthritis."