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Aspirin could be the key to providing relief to those suffering from painful inflammation. This is according to a study, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, looking at tendons collected from patients experiencing shoulder pain.

Talking about the study, Dr Stephanie Dakin from Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) emphasized the severity of the problem: “Shoulder pain is the third most common problem seen by orthopaedics specialists, and with an ageing population we will see more of this.”

Despite the variety of treatments available for shoulder pain, success rates are inconsistent. The main aim of the research carried out by the scientists from NDORMS was to shed some light on the underlying processes that trigger these medical problems.

Heading up the research team, it was Dr Dakin´s work as a vet treating tendon injuries in horses that first sparked her interest in the subject. Since then her focus has moved to how equine-based principles can be applied to humans, too. This latest research aims to better understand how tendon inflammation manifests itself and which elements can be targeted with drugs.

One of the key findings from the research was that the processes leading to and those sustaining inflammation are different at different stages of the disease. Another important discovery was that aspirin – a staple medicine in most households – could be an effective treatment for the condition.

Speaking about these findings, Dr Dakin said: “Looking at cells in the laboratory, we found that low dose aspirin has the potential to resolve tendon inflammation.”

The next step for the NDORMS team will be conducting a clinical trial to examine whether low doses of aspirin could prevent and treat people suffering from early stages of tendon disease.