Top 7 Treatments For Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint pain that affects more than 32.5 million people in the US. Symptoms include stiffness and pain. Some natural treatments can help ease OA symptoms.

NSAIDs, including over-the-counter types and stronger ones available by prescription, usually relieve osteoarthritis pain. Topical NSAID gels may also work.

1. Glucosamine

Glucosamine is produced in your body and helps build cartilage, which covers the ends of bones where they meet to form joints. Cartilage minimizes friction between the bones and allows them to move smoothly and painlessly over each other.

Taking glucosamine may help reduce the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Several scientific studies have found that taking glucosamine supplements reduces the breakdown of cartilage and improves joint function.

Glucosamine is available as a supplement in tablet or capsule form and can be purchased from high-street retailers. It is usually taken in combination with chondroitin. The glucosamine is extracted from shellfish or prepared in the laboratory. It is sold under the names glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride. Some glucosamine supplements do not contain the substance advertised on the label.

2. Capsaicin cream

There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatments can help reduce pain and stiffness. Exercise and weight loss are particularly important. You can also take pain relief tablets. However, you should check with your doctor before taking a type called NSAIDs (including aspirin) because they can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Capsaicin creams, which contain the substance capsicum found in chili peppers, can relieve some types of arthritis pain, such as knee and hand osteoarthritis. You’ll need to apply the cream regularly, three times a day. It causes a burning sensation, so it can be uncomfortable.

Capsaicin cream can also help treat a condition called neuralgia, which is a shooting pain in the nerves that may be caused by herpes zoster (shingles). It’s available as a patch (Qutenza) and as a cream or gel.

3. Tramadol

Tramadol is a potent painkiller belonging to the opiate (narcotic) class of medications. You have the option to buy tramadol online in tablet, capsule, or liquid drop forms. It effectively alleviates ongoing moderate to severe pain, surpassing the benefits of placebo or other pain relievers, and it can enhance physical function. 

Tramadol works by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and spine (central nervous system) to change the way you feel pain, and also by inhibiting the reuptake of certain chemicals called serotonin and norepinephrine. It can be habit forming, especially with prolonged use.

Combining tramadol with acetaminophen provides greater pain relief than either medicine alone. The combination may also reduce the risk of side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, constipation, stomach ulcers and liver damage.

4. Paracetamol

Often used in a variety of pain-relieving products, paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) reduces the intensity of pain signals being sent to the brain and also helps to lower fever. It belongs to a group of medicines called analgesics but doesn’t relieve inflammation like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do.

Paracetamol is a well-known painkiller that’s available on prescription or over the counter. However, a recent study found it was next to useless for hip and knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

You can buy paracetamol in tablet form or as a liquid solution. You can also get modified release paracetamol, which releases the medicine slowly into your body over an extended time. It is important not to take more than the recommended dose because it can damage your liver.

5. Fish oils

Research suggests that eating oily fish or taking a fish body or liver supplement might help ease osteoarthritis pain. However, it’s important to be aware that there isn’t enough evidence to prove this.

It’s also worth avoiding foods that are known to make arthritis symptoms worse, such as red meat, eggs and dairy products. If you think that one of these foods might be making your symptoms worse, try eliminating it for a few weeks before reintroducing it.

If you’re struggling to cope with the effects of arthritis, ask for support. This might come from a rheumatologist, a primary care doctor who specialises in bone and joint diseases, or an orthopaedic surgeon. It might also be from family and friends, or from a specialist osteoarthritis support group.

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years, involves inserting hair-thin needles into the body to promote pain relief. It has proven benefits in relieving arthritis pain, particularly when used alongside other treatments.

Osteoarthritis is the result of a gradual breakdown of cartilage, a firm and slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in joints. Without it, bone rubs directly against bone — causing inflammation, stiffness and pain.

Large studies show that acupuncture significantly reduces knee osteoarthritis pain, compared to a placebo or no treatment at all. Acupuncture may also help improve quality of life for people with arthritis, helping them perform everyday activities more easily. It does so without the risky side effects of some anti-inflammatory drugs.

7. Exercise

Keeping up with daily tasks and exercise to maintain strength and flexibility can help reduce pain. Physical therapy may also be helpful. Pain relievers (often taken orally as pills, rubbed on the skin as creams or injected into a joint) can provide relief from painful flare-ups.

Often, the first signs of osteoarthritis are pain or stiffness in a joint that gets worse with activity. It can also cause a soft, grating sound as the joints move, called crepitus.

People with arthritis can benefit from regular, low-impact exercises that don’t put too much strain on their joints. These include range-of-motion and stretching activities, swimming, walking, cycling, tai chi and water aerobics classes. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate exercise program for you. They will probably recommend starting slowly and increasing the intensity under a doctor’s supervision to prevent injuries.


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