Weaken the Hold Of Osteoarthritis Pain And Strengthen Your Quality Of Life

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Osteoarthritis can’t be cured. But, based on the severity of your condition, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to help you control osteoarthritis pain and stiffness, improve joint movement, and maintain as active a lifestyle as possible.

“Management of osteoarthritis pain ranges from temporary relief to treatments that can have a longer range effect on your quality of life,” says orthopedic surgeon Michael Herbenick, MD. “Treatment options include medications, various therapies, lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise, and, when other means don’t work, surgery.”

Medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications are commonly used for short- and long-term management of osteoarthritis pain.

Check with your health care provider before taking any medication for osteoarthritis — even OTC medications, which you can buy without a prescription.

While there are OTC medications that can treat arthritis symptoms, Dr. Matthew Lawless explains that there are no medications that can slow or halt the progression of arthritis. 

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

These drugs can cause serious side effects, particularly when taken long-term. For instance, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. And pain medicine could interfere or adversely interact with other medications you are taking.

OTC medications include:

  • Acetaminophen. This can control moderate pain without stomach upset. However, it does not reduce swelling, and long-term use and higher doses can damage the kidneys and liver.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). NSAIDs help relieve pain and swelling. But they can raise blood pressure, cause stomach and kidney problems. They should not be taken if you use blood thinners, such as Coumadin.

Michael Raab, MD, explains how anti-inflammatories are used in the treatment of arthritis.

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Prescription medications include:

  • Prescription NSAIDs. These are stronger than over-the-counter NSAIDs and reduce pain and swelling. However, they may cause serious stomach problems and easy bruising. They may cause kidney or liver problems in rare cases.
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex). This NSAID is less likely to cause stomach problems. Do not take other NSAIDs with it.

Topical medications are another option. These include lotions, creams, sprays, ointments, and gels that you apply directly to the skin over the affected joint. Examples include NSAID creams and creams containing capsaicin, an active compound in chili peppers. Topical treatments may be used with some oral medications, but check with your doctor before using.

Orthopedic surgeon Michael Raab, MD, shares that topical rubs and creams are a simple, safe option to add to conservative treatment of arthritis pain.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

Lifestyle Changes

Weaken the Hold of Osteoarthritis Pain - In Content“You can make a longer lasting impact on osteoarthritis with lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise,” says Dr. Herbenick.

Extra weight puts stress on your joints, particularly the weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees, and ankles.

Exercise is effective because it strengthens the muscles that support your joints. Plus, it lessens joint pain and stiffness, helps you lose weight and improves your overall health. Recommended exercise for joint health includes swimming, walking, and low-impact aerobics. Stretching exercises improve joint flexibility.

“Management of osteoarthritis pain ranges from temporary relief to treatments that can have a longer range effect on your quality of life,” says Premier Orthopedics physician Michael Herbenick, MD. And don’t overdo it. Take cues from your body, alternating activity and rest to protect your joints.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Heating pads, warm baths or showers can provide temporary pain relief. So can ice packs wrapped in a towel, placed over the joint. Cold therapy can also help reduce swelling.

Massage

Massage can bring temporary relief by increasing blood flow and warming muscles.

Joint Immobilization

A brace or splint can prevent further injury of a joint by limiting motion.

Assistive Devices

Similarly, canes, crutches, and walkers reduce joint stress while improving balance.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

Small TENS devices block pain messages to the brain by directing mild electrical pulses to nerve endings beneath the skin in the painful joint area.

Hyaluronic Acid Therapy

Effective for some patients, injection of hyaluronic acid in joints — usually the knee — helps restore lubrication that is commonly lost by people with osteoarthritis.

Surgery

When other therapies are not effective, doctors may recommend surgical options such as arthroscopy, fusion, or joint replacement.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.