Western pain relieving drugs for arthritis and osteoarthritis
Medicines: Doctors prescribe medicines to eliminate or reduce pain and to improve functioning. Doctors consider a number of factors when choosing medicines for their patients with osteoarthritis. Two important factors are the intensity of the pain and the potential side effects of the medicine. Patients must use medicines carefully and tell their doctors about any changes that occur.
The following types of medicines are commonly used in treating osteoarthritis:-
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever (for example, Tylenol) that does not reduce
swelling. Acetaminophen does not irritate the stomach and is less likely than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
to cause long-term side effects. Research has shown that acetaminophen relieves
pain as effectively as NSAIDs for many patients with
Warning: People with liver disease, people who drink alcohol heavily, and those taking blood- thinning medicines or NSAIDs should use acetaminophen with caution.
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): Many NSAIDs are used to treat osteoarthritis. Patients can buy some over the counter (for example, aspirin, Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve, ketoprofen). Others require a prescription. All NSAIDs work similarly: they fight inflammation and relieve pain. However, each NSAID is a different chemical, and each has a slightly different effect on the body.
Side effects: NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation or, less often, they can affect kidney function. The longer a person uses NSAIDs, the more likely he or she is to have side effects, ranging from mild to serious. Many other drugs cannot be taken when a patient is being treated with NSAIDs because NSAIDs alter the way the body uses or eliminates these other drugs. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist before you take NSAIDs in addition to another medication. Also, NSAIDs sometimes are associated with serious gastrointestinal problems, including ulcers, bleeding, and perforation of the stomach or intestine. People over age 65 and those with any history of ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding should use NSAIDs with caution. There may be a good reason why many NSAIDs warn “Do not use more than 10 days” and “For the temporary relief of minor arthritis pain.”
COX-2 inhibitors: Several new NSAIDs--valdecoxib (Bextra) and celecoxib (Celebrex)--from a class of drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors are now being used to treat osteoarthritis. These medicines reduce inflammation similarly to traditional NSAIDs, but they cause fewer gastrointestinal side effects. However, these medications occasionally are associated with harmful reactions ranging from mild to severe.
Other medications: Doctors may prescribe several other medicines for osteoarthritis, including the following:
· Topical pain-relieving creams, rubs, and sprays (for example, capsaicin cream), which are applied directly to the skin.
· Mild narcotic painkillers, which--although very effective--may be addictive and are not commonly used.
· Corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory hormones made naturally in the body or manmade for use as medicine. Corticosteroids may be injected into the affected joints to temporarily relieve pain. This is a short-term measure, generally not recommended for more than two or three treatments per year. Oral corticosteroids should not be used to treat osteoarthritis.
· Hyaluronic acid, a medicine for joint injection, used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee. This substance is a normal component of the joint, involved in joint lubrication and nutrition.
Most medicines used to treat osteoarthritis have side effects, so it is important for people to learn about the medicines they take. Even nonprescription drugs should be checked. Several groups of patients are at high risk for side effects from NSAIDs, such as people with a history of peptic ulcers or digestive tract bleeding, people taking oral corticosteroids or anticoagulants (blood thinners), smokers, and people who consume alcohol. Some patients may be able to help reduce side effects by taking some medicines with food. Others should avoid stomach irritants such as alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Some patients try to protect their stomachs by taking other medicines that coat the stomach or block stomach acids. These measures help, but they are not always completely effective.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist About Medicines
· How often should I take this medicine?
· Should I take this medicine with food or between meals?
· What side effects can I expect?
· Should I take this medicine with the other prescription medicines I take?
· Should I take this medicine with the over-the-counter medicines I take?
* Note: Brand names included in this booklet are provided as examples only. Their inclusion does not mean they are endorsed by the National Institutes of Health or any other Government agency. Also, if a certain brand name is not mentioned, this does not mean or imply that the product is unsatisfactory.
Written by John Chow, a practitioner of Chinese medicine, acupuncturist, masseur,
healer and teacher of Tai Chi, Chi Kung, martial arts and spiritual paths in
For further information on arthritis and exercises, please contact John Chow at email@example.com.
The information provided above is for general reference only. Although the author(s) has attempted to be as thorough as possible in compiling the information in this article(s), no legal responsibility nor liability is accepted for any errors or omissions. The information is presented for educational purposes only. Please refer any medical matter to your doctor before acting on any health-related information.