© 2018 OA Knee Pain. All Rights Reserved.

Your GP will discuss what pharmaceutical options are available to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA). Most treatment regimes will include a combination of exercises and assistive devices or surgery alongside medicines. There are a number of different pills, creams, salves and injections that can be taken to reduce pain, swelling and stiffness.

Painkillers

Painkillers are most commonly used, as the name suggests, for pain therapy. They are fast acting but can cause nausea, regurgitation, abdominal pain and diarrhoea, and should not be used on patients with a known heart condition. For that reason, painkillers should not be taken over a long period of time. If you are ever in doubt with what is listed on the label then you should seek professional advice.

Injections And Pharmaceuticals - Arthritis Medication - OA Knee Pain The list of medications available can be endless

Medication usually prescribed includes:

Paracetamol

Your doctor may suggest primarily taking paracetamol for OA pain relief. It is available over the counter and should be taken regularly according to the instructions on the pack.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

If paracetamol fails to reduce the pain, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may be prescribed in its place. There are two types of NSAIDs, both which act in slightly different ways:

  • Traditional NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac
  • COX-2 inhibitors or coxibs, such as celecoxib and etoricoxib

As well as being taken orally, there are NSAID creams available that you apply directly to the affected joint. They can be particularly effective for those suffering from hand or knee OA as they reduce swelling and ease pain.

If you are prescribed NSAID tablets, you should also be prescribed a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to take at the same time. This is because they reduce the risk of damage to your stomach as NSAIDs have been known to damage the stomach lining, which protects the body from stomach acid.

Opioids

Opioids are another alternative to paracetamol. Like most drugs, they come with side effects, including drowsiness, nausea and constipation. Types of opioids that may be prescribed include:

  • Codeine
  • Tramadol – unsuitable for patients with uncontrolled epilepsy
  • Dihydrocodeine – unsuitable for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

If you are required to take an opioid for a sustained period of time, your GP may also prescribe a laxative to counter constipation.

Gels & Salves

Gels and salves may be beneficial to some patients to reduce inflammation, as they are less likely to cause side effects. However, they are less effective than pills.

An example of a cream prescribed for OA is capsaicin cream. It is usually prescribed to those with hand or knee OA or to those who have found NSAIDs to be ineffective. The cream works by blocking the nerves in the treated area from sending pain signals to the brain. Unfortunately, it can take some time before you fully begin to feel the benefits - usually two weeks for some pain relief and a month for everything else.

When you first start using the cream, you may feel a burning sensation on your skin but this tends to go the more you use it. To avoid making this worse, avoid applying the cream before or after taking a bath or shower.

Injections

For severe cases of inflammation, intra-articular injections may be prescribed as an alternative treatment option to painkillers. Firstly, pressure is relieved from the joint and then an injection of medicine, usually corticosteroid, is made directly into the affected joint. Injections have fewer side effects than pills and only needs to be done a maximum of four times a year.

If you have tried all other non-surgical solutions without success, viscosupplementation may be prescribed. The process involves receiving up to five injections of hyaluronic acid, which can be found in synovial fluid in joints and acts as a lubricant and shock absorber.

How would you rate the information on this page? (Your feedback is greatly appreciated)

Sign up to the OA Knee Pain newsletter

OA Knee Pain Social Board

Bringing you the latest news, research and treatment breakthroughs from the world of osteoarthritis

Visit our blog

Filter
  • twitter
  • blog
#

Can bracing be used instead of surgery following an ACL injury?


For anyone interested in the sports or activities which help us to keep fit and healthy the potential for injury is always present. Injuries will very often involve the knee joint. This is because the knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in our body.

#

The top 10 foods experts say can help manage osteoarthritis


New foods are also appearing all the time, and not all of these have been thoroughly tested for beneficial properties, so it is also quite possible to find a food that may help you personally. Whether you do or do not believe that specific foodstuffs can alleviate osteoarthritis, it certainly appears that a healthy balanced diet and the maintenance of a reasonable body weight can help those with arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition, so it makes sense to focus on those foods that can fight inflammation.

#

What are the health benefits of spices?


There are many foods that can benefit your health, but we don’t often think of the herb and spice cupboard as holding anything particularly special. It turns out, however, that there are many excellent ingredients in spices that can not only benefit our health but also improve ailments and reduce symptoms of other health problems. Read on to discover more about the health benefits of spices. There are many spices that we can use in cooking and they all have their own special properties. From ginger to turmeric and paprika to cinnamon, every spice has its own distinct aroma, taste and health-giving properties.

#

What are the top low impact sports for people with bad joints?


Bad joints can get in the way of achieving a good exercise routine, due to the pain and discomfort of weight bearing exercise. When we exercise by playing sports or running, there is a large amount of stress placed on the joints, especially the knees. This leads to pain and can actually cause long-term damage to the joints. However, there are a few excellent low impact sports which are ideal for people with bad joints. Read on to discover which exercises can provide a great workout for people experiencing problems with their joints.

#

​5 most important questions to ask your doctor about OA


We all experience aches and pains from time to time. Normally this isn’t a problem. However, when pains become regular they become a cause of concern. Recurring pain or discomfort in the joints may be indications of the onset of osteoarthritis – a condition which, as we age, gradually damages the surfaces of the joints so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly.

#

​What to expect following knee replacement surgery


There are broadly two different types of knee replacement surgery. These are known as partial (sometimes called unilateral) knee replacement, and total or full knee replacement. You may also hear knee replacement being referred to as arthroplasty. Your surgeon will decide which option is best for you depending upon the state of your knee. Partial knee replacement is less invasive and involves less downtime, so if this is a possibility for you, your surgeon will always prefer to choose this option. However, partial knee replacements run a greater risk of the need for revision surgery, so your surgeon will carefully weigh this risk against the short-term benefits.

#

Treatments for Osteoarthtitis


It has been estimated that the number of people in the UK with osteoarthritis is around 8.75 million with almost half that figure suffering from knee OA. This means that a third of the population aged 45 and older have sought treatment for their condition.

#

What are the long term effects of pharmaceuticals in managing osteoarthritis?


​Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects your joints. It is caused by everyday wear and tear rather than any specific immune condition, but it is still painful and can be debilitating. It is caused when the cartilage that covers and protects the ends of your bones, where they join, becomes roughened and thickened. The bone underneath the cartilage also thickens, as do the ligaments, the synovium (the inner layer of the joint capsule) and the capsule itself. Sometimes extra synovial fluid is produced, which causes the joint to swell.