While there is no cure for AS, numerous studies have affirmed the effectiveness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for improving physical function, as well as providing rapid relief from back pain and stiffness. Yet, physicians generally recommend taking NSAIDs on a short-term basis, only as needed for severe AS symptoms, due to the risk of gastrointestinal complications associated with long-term use. Inspired by the improved gastoprotective safety profile of COX-2-selective NSAIDs, an international team of rheumatologists set out to explore the impact of ongoing NSAID treatment, over a 2-year span, on the course of AS. Featured in the June 2005 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), their study offers hope for decreasing the progression of AS, without increasing the risk of peptic ulcers or other adverse events.
The clinical trial began with 215 outpatients, drawn from the records of 76 hospitals and private practices in France, with a history of AS. Using a computer-generated randomization list, the patients were divided into two treatment groups. The first group, comprised of 111 patients, was prescribed twice-daily treatment with a NSAID, regardless of symptoms. The second group, comprised of 104 patients, was also prescribed a NSAID, but instructed to take it only when they suffered pronounced
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