A new injection could dramatically reduce the amount of pain experienced by people with arthritis, scientists claim.
The team at the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre at Nottingham University have found a way to target the nerve cell pain receptor TRPV1 without causing any side effects.
The medical professional has been aware that blocking the receptor can reduce pain, but previous trials using drugs have caused some patients to suffer hyperthermia following an overheating of their digestive system.
Dr Sara Kelly, a neuroscience lecturer and leader of this new study, said her team's methods have produced more promising results because they targeted the joint itself.
Currently, prolonged cases of osteoarthritis cost the economy around £200 million each year because they are the main cause of many knee and hip replacements.
The team believes this discovery could significantly reduce the number of patients going under the knife.
"A lot of patients who suffer with osteoarthritis are elderly and it would be better if we could treat their pain by giving them a drug, rather than putting them through a major surgical procedure like a joint replacement," Dr Kelly said.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of the charity Arthritis Research UK which funded the study, added new approaches to the way osteoarthritis is treated are vital.
The full findings of the study can be found in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal.
According to the NHS, around ten million people suffer from arthritis in the UK, with osteoarthritis accounting for approximately 85 per cent of that number.
The condition is most common in the elderly, but it can affect anyone at any age, including children.
The most severe form is rheumatoid arthritis. This is less common (affecting around 400,000) and occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and destroys joints.
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