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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Osteoarthritis Treatment Now

Prescription Drugs continued...

Steroid injections: Quick pain relief is possible when glucocorticoids (a type of steroid) are injected into the joint for osteoarthritis treatment. These are typically advised for moderate-to-severe knee pain or for inflammation that is not relieved by an NSAID.

Hyaluronan injections: Hyaluronic acid is a substance found in joint fluid. Given as weekly injections directly into the joint, it increases mobility. Euflexxa, Hyalgan, Orthovisc, Supartz, and Synvisc are approved for mild-to-moderate knee arthritis.

Narcotic pain relievers: These strong pain relievers contain narcotics and are often combined with Tylenol. The drugs work on pain receptors on nerve cells, not on inflammation. There is risk of dependency with these drugs. They include: Darvocet, Darvon, Lorcet, Lortab, Morphine, Oxycontin, Percocet, Tylenol with Codeine, and Vicodin.

Osteoarthritis Treatment: The Next Stage

If you have severe joint damage, severe pain, or very limited motion because of osteoarthritis, you may need surgery. These procedures relieve pain and allow better mobility:

Arthroscopic surgery: A common outpatient surgical procedure for knees and shoulders, this allows surgeons to repair the surfaces of damaged joints -- removing loose cartilage, repairing cartilage tears like meniscus tears, and smoothing bone surfaces.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): Electrical current is used to heat a small area of nerve tissue, which decreases pain signals from that tissue. The degree of pain relief varies, but this osteoarthritis treatment is proven helpful in relieving pain from joint damage.

Joint replacement surgery: When nothing else has worked, the damaged joint can be replaced with an artificial one. Hips and knees are most commonly replaced, but artificial joints are now available for shoulders, fingers, elbows, and back joints.

Osteotomy: When someone is too young for joint replacement, this procedure can increase stability in a knee or hip joint. It involves cutting bone to redistribute weight on a joint, making it more stable.

Joint fusion: Also called arthrodesis, this surgery involves fusing two bones on each end of a joint -- thus eliminating the joint itself. It is used when joints are severely damaged, causing significant pain. It is also done when joint replacement is not effective, as with the ankle. Though the fused joint is not flexible, it is more stable, can bear weight better, and is no longer painful -- the main points of osteoarthritis treatment.

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Reviewed on January 23, 2007

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