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Pain Res Manag. 2008 Mar-Apr;13(2):103-10.

Once-daily, controlled-release tramadol and sustained-release diclofenac relieve chronic pain due to osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial.

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Centre de Rhumatologie St-Louis, Ste-Foy, Canada.



The present study was a randomized, parallel, double-blind comparison between controlled-release (CR) tramadol and sustained-release (SR) diclofenac in patients with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the hips and/or knees.


Patients with at least moderate pain intensity, and having received analgesics over the past three months, underwent a two- to seven-day washout of current analgesics before initiation of 200 mg CR tramadol or 75 mg SR diclofenac. During the eight-week study, patients returned to the clinic biweekly. CR tramadol doses were titrated to a maximum of 200 mg, 300 mg or 400 mg per day. SR diclofenac doses were titrated to 75 mg or 100 mg once daily, or 75 mg twice a day based on pain relief and the presence of side effects. For rescue analgesic, patients took acetaminophen as needed, up to 650 mg three times a day.


Forty-five patients on CR tramadol and 52 patients on SR diclofenac were evaluable. Significant improvements from prestudy treatment were shown for visual analogue scale pain (P=0.0001), stiffness (P<0.0005) and physical function (P=0.0001) scores for both treatments. There were no significant differences between the two treatments in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities subscales, overall pain, pain and sleep, or the clinical effectiveness evaluation. Overall incidence of adverse events was similar in both groups, with more opioid-related adverse events with CR tramadol, and two serious adverse events occurring with the use of SR diclofenac.


CR tramadol is as effective as SR diclofenac in the treatment of pain due to knee or hip osteoarthritis, with the potential for fewer of the serious side effects that characterize nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug administration.

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