Osteoporosis is associated with compromised quality of life (QOL), to which pain has the most important contribution. Elcatonin, a derivative of calcitonin, is widely used in the treatment of osteoporosis in two ways. One is as the inhibitor of osteoclastic bone resorption. The other is for osteoporosis-related pain based on the unique analgesic effects of elcatonin. Since pain is subjective in nature, and QOL is the only clinical outcome representing the patients' subjective perception of health status, pain associated with osteoporosis would be best evaluated based on QOL assessment. Evidence based medicine gives the highest remarks to the double-blinded, randomized controlled trial, which, however, cannot be free from methodological problems on some occasions. For example, it is practically impossible to remain blinded in the trial of a potent analgesia, which in turn causes biases. Thus, the significance of taking the patients' preference into account is increasingly acknowledged. In this study, 45 osteoporotic patients were given brochures describing the pros and cons on the three treatment choices; calcium and alfacalcidol, additional use of elcatonin, and additional use of bisphosphonate. Those who favored elcatonin were older, had more vertebral fractures, and lower QOL scores. QOL was evaluated before and three months after the treatment using SF-8; the most widely used generic questionnaire, and RDQ; a lumbago-specific measure. Elcatonin treatment improved physical function, general health, and vitality of SF-8, and RDQ score. Although this is a preliminary study, our results suggest that patients with vertebral fracture(s) have impaired QOL and more likely to favor elcatonin treatment expecting analgesia.
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