Osteoarthritis is a bone disease that often affects older people, but can strike at any age. It is usually caused by wear and tear on the joints, which initiates inflammation. The chronic inflammation causes the bones to degenerate, leading to stiffness, immobility and disability. The pain associated with osteoarthritis is described as a deep, gnawing, and constant pain on movement. It can be treated in a number of ways.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) reduce the inflammation of osteoarthritis and help to manage pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen are in this category of medications. They are available over-the-counter and can do a good job of controlling arthritis pain when taken as directed.
Ointments and creams applied to the affected area can help to soothe the aching joint temporarily. These compounds generally contain menthol or salicylic acid. They may not be sufficient for advanced cases of osteoarthritis.
Another class of drug used for the pain of osteoarthritis is the cox-2 inhibitor. This drug prevents the production of prostoglandins, which contribute to the transmission of pain sensations. These drugs must be taken with caution because of side effects.
Steroid medications are effective in reducing inflammation and pain. They can only be used short term because of the potential of side effects.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Osteoarthritis wears away the fluid that helps to cushion joints. Hyaluronic acid is a compound similar to this fluid, which replaces the cushioning substance to reduce pain symptoms.
Researchers have found that the use of antidepressant medications can help patients to manage pain. These drugs work by reducing the anxiety that is often experienced by those managing chronic pain symptoms.
Heat and Ice
Heat has long been used as a treatment for arthritis pain. Warm cloths, heating pads, or gel packs that can be heated in the microwave can all help to soother aching joints from osteoarthritis or from overuse. Ice packs can help to reduce the swelling from inflammation of the joint.
Gentle exercise can help to relieve osteoarthritis pain by maintaining the mobility in the affected joint and strengthening the muscles that support it. Swimming, walking and light yoga are good exercise for individuals dealing with osteoarthritis. Avoid exercises like high-impact aerobics, running, or jogging, which can increase the damage to affected joints.
Massage of the affected area can help to increase circulation and reduce pain. It can also help to relax the individual and improve well-being, which are other problems experienced by patients dealing with chronic pain.
Acupuncture is an ancient Asian therapy in which thin needles are inserted to block the nerve pathways to control pain. This method can also be helpful for those dealing with osteoarthritis pain.