Arthritis is a group of degenerative conditions that present with inflammation of the connective tissue in joints, causing pain and stiffness. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is caused by the wear and tear of bones and connective tissue, and it worsens as people get older. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, is also common.
The treatment of arthritis is based on alleviating inflammation and pain and improving the patient's quality of life through improved joint function. Combinations of analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications, are usually prescribed for arthritis patients. Natural pain relief approaches are also becoming increasingly common as relief for arthritis.
Common drugs used to treat arthritis include:
Analgesics: These are pain relief drugs that help reduce pain, but usually have no impact on inflammation. They are henceforth administered to patients without inflamed joints or in combination to anti-inflammatory drugs. The most commonly used analgesics include tramadol, acetaminophen, and hydrocodone or oxycodone containing drugs.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs reduce pain and inflammation. Some NSAIDs are sold over-the-counter such as ibuprofen while others are only available through prescription. Physicians may prescribe an NSAID in the form of gel or cream to be rubbed on swollen, arthritic joints.
Corticosteroids: These are steroidal drugs that reduce inflammation while suppressing the immune system. They include cortisone and prednisone, and are commonly administered to patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Anti-rheumatic drugs. Also referred to as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), these drugs suppress the immune system to prevent it from autoimmune attacks on the joints. They are used for rheumatoid arthritis and they include hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate medications.
Other drugs used to treat arthritis include counterirritants, which are usually in form of ointments or creams, and biologic response modifiers, which are administered concurrently with DMARDs.
If medications fail in treating or managing arthritis effectively, surgery may be suggested. While medications are a conservative therapy approach, surgery is very invasive. Surgical treatment of arthritis may involve joint repair, replacement, or fusion. Depending on the severity of the disease, the arthroplasty may involve the use of a prosthetic joint.
Natural therapies for arthritis
Arthritis patients may find relief from pain and inflammation through different natural methods that may also improve joint function. Losing weight is one of the ways through which patients can cope with arthritis as this reduces the stress and pressure exerted on the hip, knee, and feet joints. Exercise is also recommended to improve joint function for arthritis patients. Acupuncture, meditation, massages, and herbal products are also considered helpful in dealing with arthritis and improving wellness.