A steroid pill may be as good as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for treating painful gout, new research suggests.
Researchers who compared the steroid prednisolone with the arthritis medication indomethacin found both drugs offered a similar degree of pain reduction. And while indomethacin (Indocin) appeared to cause more minor side effects, neither treatment prompted serious complications, the researchers said.
Smaller investigations have pointed in the same direction, said study lead author Dr. Timothy Rainer, a professor of emergency medicine at Cardiff University in Wales. But because the new findings are the product of a "larger and better-designed" effort, Rainer said steroid pills may gain standing among gout experts who usually stick with NSAIDs as their first-line treatment.
The bottom line is that there are choices, said Dr. Philip Mease, a rheumatologist with the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.
"That is the key message - that there are options," said Mease, who wasn't involved in the study. "Sometimes ER docs don't think about giving a tapering dose of prednisone, but it can be very effective at helping with gout, which can be damn painful."