Medication Options for Arthritis Pain Relief
Last time, we explored lifestyle options to help manage arthritis pain of osteoarthritis. In this article, we’ll discuss medication options for the treatment of osteoarthritis. If you missed the first article in this two part series, you can find it here.
The choice of which medications to use to treat arthritis symptoms depends on the severity of the arthritis and which joints are affected. Regardless of the medication used to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis, it is very important to monitor the treatment’s effectiveness. Starting a symptom diary is a useful way to compare symptoms before and after a treatment, and evaluate the benefits provided.
Topical MedicationsIf only a limited number of joints are affected by arthritis, a topical treatment may be the best option. Topical treatments are medications in cream or ointment form which are applied directly to the affected joints. These medications can also be relied upon when oral treatments are not working optimally, or when oral treatments need to be avoided because of risks or side effects. Two ingredients to look for in a topical treatment are diclofenac and capsaicin.
Oral MedicationsAcetaminophen is the most common and generally the safest oral medication used to treat arthritis. Most people will be familiar with it as the brand name product Tylenol. Many generic versions of acetaminophen are also available. Patients should be on the lookout for Tylenol products which combine acetaminophen with other medicines that may not be appropriate to treat arthritis. Acetaminophen works to relieve the pain associated with arthritis, but does not treat inflammation. Tablets or capsules usually contain between 325 mg – 650 mg of acetaminophen per tablet. Your pharmacist can help you select the right acetaminophen product as well as recommend the best dose and schedule for you.
Going beyond the pharmacySome osteoarthritis sufferers may explore treatment options that take them outside the pharmacy. In some instances, your doctor may recommend and provide corticosteroid injections directly into affected joints. This treatment may be a short term solution for osteoarthritis in selected joints, as directed by your medical doctor.
Mark Mercure is certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in Geriatric Pharmacy and is the owner/manager of Home Health Care Pharmacy. He specializes in providing comprehensive medication reviews which help patients optimize medication use and avoid drug-related issues.