Considerations For Choosing An Osteoarthritic Pain Medication

Arthritis pain can be eased by a variety of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid medications, injections, and physical therapy. How do you and your doctor choose the medication option that is best for you?

Currently, medicine is unable to cure osteoarthritis. The good news is that an array of treatments is available to relieve joint pain. Medications for osteoarthritis pain relief include the use of anti-inflammatory painkillers for chronic pain and opioids for short-term acute pain. We explain how we evaluate the advantages and risks of each medication to choose a treatment that is personalized to our patient.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis; the Arthritis Foundation estimates that this joint condition causes pain to more than 27 million Americans.

This degenerative disease becomes worse over time as progressive joint wear damages the cartilage that cushions our joints. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones in our joints begin to rub together, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain. Osteoarthritis is most common among women, and our chances of developing arthritis increase as we get older. Although ongoing wear and tear is the most common culprit, osteoarthritis can also be the result of overusing certain joints through repetitive motions.

No study can tell us exactly which medication will work best for a particular patient, because results can vary dramatically from patient to patient. However, a recent study has shown that both NSAIDs and opioids are able to reduce pain by about 30 percent. As we consider the best medication choice for a particular patient, we evaluate pain reduction as well as other factors like dangerous side effects.

  • NSAIDs can cause stomach problems like bleeding and ulcers, as well as high blood pressure and kidney problems.
  • Opioid side effects include constipation, nausea, and drowsiness. Because the risks of addiction, dependence, and overdose are significant, Summit does not use opioids to manage chronic long-term osteoarthritic pain.

At Summit, we believe in a multidisciplinary approach to manage pain. Evidence supports the effectiveness of multiple treatments designed to restore mobility, reduce pain, and protect your lifestyle. Medication may ease pain so that a patient can work with a physical therapist on strengthening and conditioning, and occasional steroid shots may help to control inflammation.

Medical research is constantly improving care outcomes and exploring even better treatments. We will continue to keep you informed about the most recent osteoarthritic treatment developments to help you find the most effective treatments to minimize pain and maximize your quality of life.





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