Move Over, Aleve: Gas Injections May Relieve Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

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Yaneff_091115According to new research presented this month at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in San Francisco, California, researchers found that injecting ozone gas into the knee can improve functioning and quality of life and reduce pain in knee osteoarthritis patients.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis. It is called a degenerative joint disease since loss of cartilage and joint degeneration are factors in the condition. As cartilage degenerates, the underlying bone becomes exposed and damaged. As a result, symptoms include stiffness, joint pain, cracking, and grinding sensations.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It affects over 50 million Americans, and 80% of those over 50 years old. It most commonly affects the joints in the hands, spine, hips, and knees. Common causes of osteoarthritis include reduction in quality of life, disability, and severe pain as a result from stresses on the joints from heavy lifting or certain jobs.

Brazil researchers set out to determine how ozone gas injections in the knee could improve quality of life and function and reduce pain in knee osteoarthritis patients. Research has shown that ozone gas can effectively balance free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body. Ozone gas is a naturally occurring gas that has three oxygen atoms.

Ninety-eight patients with knee osteoarthritis participated in the study. Sixty-three patients received 10 milliliters (ml) of ozone injections, and 35 participants received 10 ml of air injections for a placebo. Researchers performed various assessments of the knee osteoarthritis patients at various times: at the beginning of the study, after the fourth and eighth injection, and eight weeks after the last injection. Researchers were looking for changes in the ability to walk, stand, and sit, joint function, pain, and other quality-of-life indications.

To evaluate the time it takes to stand up, walk a set distance, and return and sit, the researchers used “timed up and go” (TUG) tests. There were no significant differences between the placebo and ozone gas injection groups during the TUG tests; however, ozone gas injection groups produced significantly better results in the tests that measured function, pain, and overall health. As a result, the ozone gas therapy group showed significant results throughout the entire study.

The study also included a quality of life assessment using the Short Form-36 Health Survey. It showed that knee osteoarthritis patients who received ozone gas therapy saw improvement in every quality of life area after the fourth injection.

“We think the work means that ozone can give the patient a better quality of life with less pain and more independence in daily life activities,” explained researchers on the study, Virginia Fernandes Moca Trevisani and Carlos Cesar Lopes de Jesus. “Ozone is also capable of delaying the need for joint replacement surgery. It is a tool for the clinician to reduce pain or to help control it.”

Researchers note that more studies are necessary to confirm the results that ozone gas therapy is an appropriate alternative for osteoarthritis patients. The next study would have to analyze the effectiveness of ozone gas therapy in knee osteoarthritis patients with an ultrasound or CT scan.

Another study presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting also found that tai chi is a viable alternative treatment for people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, especially compared to physical therapy.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Jesus, C., et al., “Comparison Between Intra Articular Ozone and Placebo in the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Multicentric, Comparative, Randomized and Double-Blinded Clinical Trial,” American College of Rheumatology Meeting Abstracts, abstract number 311, session date November 8, 2015.
“Ozone gas injections may do the trick for knee osteoarthritis sufferers,” ScienceDaily web site, November 8, 2015;
Balch, J., et al., Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet, Nutrition, Supplements, and Other Holistic Methods (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004), 50–51.
Wang, C., “Comparative Effectiveness of Tai Chi versus Physical Therapy in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized, Single-Blind Trial,” American College of Rheumatology Meeting Abstracts, abstract number 951, session date November 8, 2015.