If osteoarthritis causes you pain, you don’t have to “just deal with it.” There are several kinds of medications and other treatment options for you to choose from. They may not eliminate your pain totally, but they can often ease it significantly and make it possible for you to do all the things you enjoy doing.
Jerry Wade used to love bird-watching with his wife, an avid birder. "I'm not a birder myself, but I like being active and getting out there with her," he says. "Bird-watching puts you into natural areas and some rough terrain -- it's not an easy physical activity."
But in the fall of 2005, the 66-year-old Columbia, Mo., resident, who had retired in 2000 from a career in community development, started noticing "pains and twinges" in his knees. A visit to his doctor in January 2006 brought the diagnosis:...
Many people find pain relief through a regular program of diet and exercise. For patients who are overweight or obese, losing 10% of their weight reduces pain and improves function, according to research.
WebMD takes a look at the risks and benefits of medications available to help manage osteoarthritis pain.
Over-the-Counter Pain Medications
The advantages of over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain relief, like acetaminophen and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, include easy access, affordability, and lower risk of side effects.
OTC acetaminophen can reduce mild and moderate arthritis pain that often accompanies osteoarthritis. Follow the dosage directions on the bottle, because acetaminophen and NSAIDs can cause problems when not used according to the package label. If taken with food or milk, you can reduce the risk of side effects. NOTE: You should not take more than 3000 mg per day unless told to do so by your doctor. You may be taking other medications that contain acetaminophen without realizing it, so you should makes sure you do not exceed 3000 mg from all sources.
NSAIDs also provide relief from pain caused by swelling and inflammation. At over-the-counter doses, NSAIDs are not as effective at reducing inflammation as higher prescription doses.
Most healthy people can safely take NSAIDs for short periods without any problems, However, NSAIDs may increase the risk of medical problems like heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. One study advises people who have had a heart attack to be cautious using NSAIDs because of increased risk of another heart attack and death.