Clinical Trials for Osteoarthritis

Have you tried taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, and injections to treat your osteoarthritis pain, but you still have pain?  Are you interested in trying another treatment before resorting to joint replacement surgery? If so, a clinical trial might be right for you.

Clinical trials are controlled studies that help doctors and researchers learn more about new therapies, medical devices, or lifestyle changes for treating a specific disease. Many people participate in clinical trials for the opportunity to try treatments they normally wouldn’t have access to.

Current clinical trials for osteoarthritis are investigating new injectable therapies along with mindset and lifestyle changes to help alleviate joint pain and swelling. Keep reading to learn more about new trends being studied in osteoarthritis.

New Injectable Treatments for Osteoarthritis

Injectable medications like corticosteroids are a mainstay treatment for osteoarthritis. By directly injecting a therapy into an affected joint, it can significantly improve pain and swelling without causing widespread side effects. Corticosteroids are generally effective, but they can’t help to repair damaged tissues or regrow cartilage.1 Investigators are now looking into new ways to avoid joint replacement surgery and help repair and make new cartilage tissue to cushion the joints.

Stem cell therapy is a recent medical advancement that uses specialized cells with the ability to turn into nearly any tissue type in the body. These cells can be found in:

  • Bone marrow (the spongy tissue inside your bones)
  • Fat or adipose tissue
  • Amniotic fluid that surrounds a fetus in the womb
  • Placenta or the tissue that delivers oxygen and nutrients from the mother to a fetus in the womb

Investigators are running clinical trials to study how stem cell injections into knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder joints can help treat osteoarthritis. These injections may be combined with other oral medications currently used to help manage pain in those with osteoarthritis.2-6

It’s important to note that there aren’t any stem cell treatments currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We’re still learning about the safety and efficacy of these therapies, so be sure to use caution if you find a clinic or center advertising stem cell treatments to “cure” your osteoarthritis.7

New Research in Exercise Programs and Lifestyle Changes for Osteoarthritis

When you think of a clinical trial, you likely think of trying an experimental drug to compare it to a “fake” drug or placebo. However, clinical trials can also give investigators the opportunity to study lifestyle changes in large groups of people in a controlled environment to figure out how effective they are.

Many people living with osteoarthritis have severe joint pain that interferes with their mobility and prevents them from doing activities they love. A recent trend in osteoarthritis clinical trials has begun focusing on exercise programs dedicated specifically to people with osteoarthritis to help them better manage their pain and strengthen their muscles.

There are currently several clinical trials studying how different forms of exercise, meditation, and mindfulness can help relieve joint pain in those with osteoarthritis. There’s also an interest in learning how these lifestyle changes can be combined with medications or diet changes to offer better results. The results of these studies may offer new alternatives to people with mild osteoarthritis to prevent the need for joint replacement surgery later in life.8-10

Joining an Osteoarthritis Clinical Trial

Find Clinical Trials Near Me

Interested in clinical trials? Simply search by postal code and type of condition to see what’s going on in your area.


If you’re interested in joining an osteoarthritis clinical trial, be sure to take time to weigh the benefits and risks of participating. Talk with your close family members, friends, and your doctor to decide if a clinical trial is right for you. Ultimately, the decision should be made with your health and best interests in mind.

Investigators are required to post their clinical trials online, along with the eligibility criteria that you need to meet to participate. Inclusion criteria are a list of requirements you must meet to join a study, and exclusion criteria are circumstances that prevent you from joining.

For osteoarthritis clinical trials, inclusion criteria may involve being within a specific age range or having certain pain or mobility scores from tests and questionnaires. Exclusion criteria could be using certain pain relievers that could interfere with study results or previously having joint replacement surgery. These criteria are set in place to ensure the data collected during the study are as unbiased and accurate as possible while reducing the risk of injury or complications to participants.