Arthritis affects a large number of Americans, and the symptoms typically worsen as the patient gets older. There are a number of effective medications as well as several alternative remedies that have proven successful with arthritis sufferers. The treatments focus on relieving the pain of the symptoms associated with arthritis, as there is no cure for this condition. The most typically used medications are pain relievers and anti-inflammatories that help to reduce the pain and swelling of the joints that arthritis causes. Topical cremes and ointments that contain menthol also help to relieve joint pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body attacks the joints which causes a great deal of pain and discomfort. The most common treatments for RA are Trexall and Plaquenil that will slow or stop the attack on your joints. Steroids are also used in treatment, and drugs such as prednisone and cortisone help to suppress the immune system. These drugs can be injected directly into the joints where the patient is experiencing the most pain. Biological response modifiers target certain molecules and work to alter their behavior in order to suppress the damage they cause to joints. Two examples of this type of drug are Enbrel and Remicade.
Regular arthritis can be treated with less aggressive measures such as analgesics and anti-inflammatory medicines. Over the counter analgesics such as Tylenol help to relieve pain but do not treat any underlying inflammation or swelling. Narcotics such as Percocet and Oxycontin are also in this category. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) treat both the pain and the inflammation. NSAIDs are available over the counter and by prescription. Examples include Advil and Aleve, which are effective for many patients. The main complaint of users taking NSAIDs is stomach upset and discomfort. Topical cremes are often used in tandem with these medications.
Alternative treatments are also gaining in popularity, and many doctors are encouraging their patients to try one or more of these treatments along with their regular medication. Acupuncture has proven effective in treating painful joints at the specific areas where the pain is emanating. This alternative has been in use for centuries, and many patients in the US are including it as part of their overall treatment. Yoga and tai chi help the muscles surrounding the joint to stretch, relax, and strengthen which can lessen pain.
Massage is another popular alternative treatment and many patients find the overall sense of well-being that massage provides to be helpful. Massage helps to increase blood flow to the joints which warms the area and provides temporary relief from the pain caused by arthritis. Glucosamine has received mixed results in testing, with some studies finding that it works no better than a placebo. It is interesting that patients taking the placebo and glucosamine both reported improved relief of their pain than patients that took nothing at all.
Arthritis typically worsens with time, but these treatments can help patients to find relief from their symptoms. By adding an alternative treatment to your pain relief regimen you may increase your range of motion in the effected joints, and increase your physical abilities.