Comparison of naproxen and acetaminophen in a two-year study of treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee

Arthritis Rheum. 1993 Sep;36(9):1196-206. doi: 10.1002/art.1780360904.


Objective: To compare the relative safety and efficacy of naproxen and acetaminophen in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The major outcome measures were radiographic progression and withdrawal from the trial due to lack of efficacy.

Methods: One hundred seventy-eight patients with OA of the knee were enrolled in a 2-year prospective, controlled, double-blind multicenter trial and were randomly assigned to receive acetaminophen (ACT) or naproxen (NPX) treatment.

Results: After 6 weeks of treatment, modest improvement in pain on motion and in physician's global assessment was seen in both the ACT and the NPX groups, and the NPX group also had modest improvement in pain at rest and in 50-foot walk time. Sixty-two patients completed the 2-year study. Among these patients, radiographic progression was similar in the 2 treatment groups. Withdrawal from the trial due to lack of drug efficacy was slightly more frequent among patients in the ACT group (22% versus 16%), but withdrawal due to adverse drug effects was slightly more common in the NPX group (23% versus 18%).

Conclusion: The efficacy of ACT treatment and NPX treatment was similar, although it was slightly better for NPX. The toxicity rate was slightly lower with ACT. However, the high rate of withdrawal in both treatment groups suggests that neither is satisfactory for the treatment of OA.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthrography
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint* / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint* / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naproxen / adverse effects
  • Naproxen / therapeutic use*
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Prospective Studies
  • Walking


  • Acetaminophen
  • Naproxen