Are painkillers contributing to axSpA diagnosis delay?

Tuesday, 15 Aug 2017

A new study is set to investigate whether anti-inflammatory drugs are inadvertently contributing to the all too common delay in diagnosing axial spondyloarthritis.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, UK are concerned that the drugs, often used by patients to dampen pain associated with the condition,  are reducing inflammation to the point where symptoms are hidden on MRI scans.

The study, supported by Arthritis Research UK,  will involve 250 patients with axial spondyloarthritis who will stop taking their regular anti-inflammatory drugs for a week before receiving an MRI scan. They will then start taking the drugs again for six weeks, ahead of a second MRI scan.

The researchers will then compare the proportion of people who scanned positive for axial spondyloarthritis with those who scanned negative for the condition once they went back on the painkillers. 

Lead researcher Dr Gareth Jones, said: “If we see that the painkillers are indeed leading to negative diagnoses, then it will lend support to the argument that anyone receiving an MRI scan for back pain should halt their regular anti-inflammatory medication for a week or so prior to the scan.”

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