The debilitating condition is incurable and many sufferers are left to rely on anti-inflammatory painkillers that can cause stomach damage when used over longer time.
The other alternative is knee replacements.
Now, researchers have shown that a pill, called duloxetine, which costs 22 pounbs for a month's supply, halved pain levels in patients.
In their study, the scientists gave one group of patients either a 60mg or 120mg daily dose of the drug for 13 weeks and another group an identical-looking placebo pill. They used a recognised scale to assess changes in pain levels during the experiment.
The duloxetine group in the University of Maryland study was 33 per cent more likely to see their pain levels drop by between a third and a half than those on the dummy tablet, according to a report in the latest Journal of Rheumatology.
The pill acts on neuro