Pain Medications for Arthritis and Joint Pain
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. The word arthritis comes from Greek arthro- (joint) and -itis (inflammation) and means "joint inflammation." With arthritis, the tissues in or around a joint become inflamed, causing pain, stiffness, and, sometimes, difficulty moving.
The most common forms of arthritis:
Analgesics act specifically against pain and don't reduce inflammation.
Acetaminophen is effective in many arthritic conditions and is recommended for mild to moderate pain.
Tramadol, a centrally acting analgesic, is often used in osteoarthritis. It can decrease moderate to severe pain, improve stiffness and joint function.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the cornerstone of arthritis and joint pain management. The most well-known NSAID is aspirin, or acetasalicylic acid, first synthesized in 1899.
NSAIDs are effective in managing pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness. They act through blocking of enzymes necessary for the synthesis of prostaglandins - hormone-like chemicals that promote inflammation and pain.
The major potential risks of NSAIDs include:
What is the best NSAID?
The sure way to determine which NSAID is best for you is to try different options.
Ibuprofen is one of the safest and least expensive and is available over-the counter3.
Diclofenac is one of the safest and most potent NSAIDs 5 and is often used for chronic conditions.
Naproxen is widely used for various forms of arthritis. It appears to be risk-neutral with regard to cardiovascular side effects4, but has a greater potential to increase blood pressure than other NSAIDs2.
COX-2 inhibitors (coxibs) are NSAIDs that selectively block the COX-2 enzyme, which produces prostaglandins that promote inflammation and pain. They are less likely to cause ulcers than traditional NSAIDs, but have higher risk of cardiovascular problems.
The only COX-2 inhibitor on the market is celecoxib (Celebrex). It is indicated for the relief of symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications. Corticosteroids are not themselves painkillers but, by reducing inflammation, they also reduce the pain. The most commonly prescribed corticosteroid for arthritis:
Topical pain medications for aching joints
Topical pain medications are best used on joints that are close to the skin's surface, such as the joints in your hands and knees.
Capsaicin. Capsaicin is effective in the management of osteoarthritis pain of the knee, ankle, wrist and shoulder1. Capsaicin works by decreasing a substance in the nerves called "substance P," which sends pain signals to the brain.
Menthol. Menthol produces a sensation of hot or cold that may temporarily interfere with the ability to feel arthritis pain.
Salicylates. Salicylates are the main ingredient in topical analgesics, which offer pain relief and reduced joint inflammation.
Author: OriginalDrugs Team