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 best osteoarthritis pain medication?

Currently, medicine is unable to cure osteoarthritis. The good news is that an array of treatments is available to relieve joint pain. Osteoarthritis pain medication relief includes 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.

How osteoarthritis progresses

This degenerative disease becomes worse over time. Progressive joint wear damages the cartilage that cushions our joints. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones in our joints begin to rub together. This causes 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.

Osteoarthritis pain medication options

No study can tell us exactly which osteoarthritis pain 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.

Summit’s approach to osteoarthritis

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. Additionally, 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.

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of only two surgery centers nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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