Do acetaminophen and an NSAID combined relieve osteoarthritis pain better than either alone?
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Combining nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen for short courses provides more relief of pain in osteoarthritis without an increase in side effects (strength of recommendation [SOR]=B). Combining acetaminophen at 4 g/d with an NSAID can also decrease the daily dose of NSAID required for pain relief, thus reducing the potential risk from higher-dose NSAID therapy (SOR=B). Over the long term, however, this combination may increase the risk of upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding more than that conferred by the NSAID alone (SOR=B). If combination therapy is necessary, limiting the dose of acetaminophen to ≤2 g/d minimizes gastrointestinal toxicity. Acetaminophen alone at the lowest dose to provide pain relief is the safest pharmacologic choice for patients with osteoarthritis.
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