Arthritis cannot be cured but it can be treated with a wide selection of medications, procedures and alternative therapies that all provide great relief from pain. It is up to your doctor to choose the right treatment plan for you. Here are some of the conventional and alternative treatments for arthritis
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are one of the most commonly prescribed medications by doctors for their arthritic patients. NSAIDs lessen the effects of prostaglandins, chemicals in the body that activate fever, inflammation and pain. NSAIDs can be over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, naproxen and iburprofen that tackle pain and fever and prescription drugs like sulndrac, piroxicam, naproxen, ketoprofen and celecoxib, ketoprofen, naproxen, piroxicam, and sulindac to treat fever, pain and inflammation.
NSAIDs are effective in relieving swelling and pain for all forms of arthritis. However, they have side effects like:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular conditions
- Heart attack
- Abdominal bleeding
Acetaminophen or sometimes called paracetamol is a drug that can also relieve arthritic pain. It is a good inflammatory drug for many individuals and does not come with side effects such as those caused by NSAIDs. It does, however, have other side effects like kidney or liver damage if you take them long-term in large doses.
Gels and Creams
Topical pain relievers for arthritis are offered in gel or cream form. They include:
Capsaicin – Capsaicin is the ingredient that gives pepper its burning taste. It is applied medically to reduce or interfere with substance P, a brain chemical that sends pain signals to the brain. This makes capsaicin effective in relieving many forms of arthritis symptoms and diabetic neuropathy. Capsaicin helps relieve nerve, joint and muscle pain.
Liniments – Liniments often contain eucalyptus oil, camphor and menthol. Liniments are effective in relaxing the muscles and relieving pain.
DMARDs or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs work by slowing down joint damage in individuals suffering from psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs, however, can heighten the risk of infection. DMARDs include:
Corticosteroids produce the same effects as NSAIDS – the reduction of pain and inflammation of arthritis symptoms. They are used when NSAIDs fail to produce their desired effects. Corticosteroids for the treatment of arthritis are introduced into the body by injection or by mouth. Their effects often last longer than NSAIDs lasting for weeks or even months. Weight gain is the common side effect of these drugs. Other side effects can be osteoporosis, cataracts and infection.
Hyaluronic Acid Therapy
Hyaluronic acid is the natural fluid of the body that lubricates the joints and serves as their shock absorber. It is often administered in the body by injection. This treatment is effective for knee osteoarthritis and betters mobility. The side effects of this treatment can consist of swelling or pain at the site of the injection. Hyaluronic acid therapy is also known as viscosupplementation. Viscosupplementation products include Synvisc-One, Supartz, Orthovisc, Hyalgan and Euflexxa.
Certain antidepressants like the drug duloxetine (Cymbalta) have shown to work in the relief of osteoarthritis or chronic musculoskeletal pain. Tricyclics which are forms of antidepressants also work in managing chronic pain. There are no definite explanations how these drugs neutralize chronic pain but they have definite side effects to the body like blurred vision, dry mouth and drowsiness among others.
There are specific drugs to treat gout besides pain relievers, NSAIDs or steroids. These gout medications include probenecid, febuxostat and allopurinol. Colchicine and another gout drug called Krystexxa are drugs prescribed by doctors when other more popular treatments fail. Krystexxa works by helping the body eliminate uric acid before it settles to the joints and damages it. The side effects of these drugs include bruising, nausea and allergies at the site of the injections.
The failure of all kinds of arthritis medications may entail radical procedures like surgery. Some people opt for this procedure to replace damaged and/or painful joints or to properly realign them. Some of the more common types of arthritis surgery include:
- Arthroplasty or joint replacement
- Joint fusion
Alternative treatments for arthritis
There are effective natural alternative treatments for sufferers of this condition who want a safer and more natural treatment course for their condition. Some of these therapies include:
Acupuncture – This is an ancient and very popular form of alternative therapy for arthritis treatment. Acupuncture is a proven very effective reliever of arthritic pain and inflammation. This treatment entails the use of very thin, sterile needles placed at the shoulders, arms legs or even the little toe to release natural painkilling chemicals to neutralize the pain and to relax the muscles to help fight inflammation.
Supplements – Supplements consisting of chondroitin and glucosamine have proven effective in providing relief for osteoarthritis symptoms. These two ingredients help relieve pain in patients with mild osteoarthritis.
Receiving Professional Assistance from Arthritis
Besides your doctor, you can get help from a physical therapist or an occupational therapist for your arthritis pain as well as provide you with coping strategies and other ways to help you attain a better quality of life.
However, your doctor should be your number one recourse to your arthritis problem. Stay in touch with your doctor regularly to make him know if the medications are working well for you and to seek advice as to other possible treatment options for your problem.
You can consult with an occupational therapist to seek suggestions on how to live a more pain-free life. This therapist will help modify your living space to make your tasks, activities and surroundings much easier to do and move around in.
If you want your body to have a better range of motion, you can go to a physical therapist where he can help you improve the function and flexibility of your muscles and joints and teach you the proper way to utilize walking implements such as special shoes, brace, walker or a cane.
AcuHealing Medical Center
2700 SW 3rd Ave #2
Miami, FL 33129