The treatment for arthritis aims at reducing the pain, improving joint function and preventing further damage. One needs to try various combinations of treatments to determine the best treatment.
Depending on the type of arthritis, the medications vary. The common medications usually prescribed are:
- Analgesics – Help in reducing pain, but do not show any effect on inflammation.
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) – Reduce both the inflammation and pain. They are also available in the form of gels or creams. Oral NSAIDs carry side effects like stomach irritation, risk of heart stroke or attack.
- Counter Irritants – Help in reducing the aching pain in the joints. They contain capsaicin or menthol that produces the effect.
- DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs) – Prevents or slows immune system from aggravating the joint pains.
- Biologics – These are genetically modified drugs and are used along with DMARDs. They are also involved in immune response
- Corticosteroids – Suppress immune system and reduce inflammation. They are available both in oral form and injections.
Some types of arthritis can only be healed through physical therapy. Exercises strengthen the joint muscles and also improve the joint motion. Braces or splints are also used to give support to the joints and improve their position, in case of rheumatoid arthritis.
If the above treatments won’t work, your physician may advice surgical treatments. They may include:
- Joint Replacement – This surgical technique involves replacing the damaged joint with an artificial implant. Hips and knees are most commonly replaced.
- Joint Fusion – This surgical technique is used for small joints like wrist, fingers and ankles. The extremes of the either bones at the joint are locked together till it is healed.