Osteoarthritis is a whole group of diseases that have a similar symptomatology. The disease is caused by the aging of the joints and deformation of the articular cartilage. The disease affects not only cartilage but also the nearby bones, ligaments, and muscles.
You’ve probably heard complaints from elderly people about joint pain. There is nothing surprising in this. Indeed, pain and a gradual decrease in joint function are the main clinical manifestations of osteoarthritis. Let’s look at how pain appears in osteoarthritis and also find out what doctors recommend for the relief of pain.
How Pain Appears in Osteoarthritis
In osteoarthritis, the pain is of nociceptive and sometimes of neuropathic character. The development of pain leads to functional disorders of the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestion, and other body systems.
The main cause that leads to the development of pain syndrome is gradual degradation and reduction of synthesis of cartilage matrix, loss of its damping properties, and imbalance of bone metabolism in the underlying bone with the development of osteophytes. The pressure on the exposed bone leads to the appearance of pain even under moderate physical exercises. In addition, inflammation develops in the synovium, which leads to morning stiffness and inflammatory pains.
The association of pain with a certain type of motion indicates a lesion of the tissues surrounding the joint, for example, with a spasm of periarticular muscles or due to fibrosis of the joint capsule in osteoarthritis. Predominantly nocturnal pain in the area of large joints or in the entire limb is most often due to either vascular disorders (venous hyperemia) or neuropathies (tunnel, radicular syndromes).
How to Relieve Pain in Joints
At the moment it is believed that with osteoarthritis all the structures that make up the joint, as well as the periarticular tissues, suffer.
This means that the treatment of the disease is a complex task, requiring the pooling of efforts of physicians of various specialties:
Many doctors emphasize that, regardless of the localization of pain (knee, hip, carpal joints, etc.), it is recommended to be limited to conservative methods of treatment (physiotherapy, massages, etc.) in the initial stages of the disease. It is also worth remembering that most of the existing drugs, though relieve the pain quickly and effectively, must be used very carefully. If you take them regularly, in addition to getting used to it, side effects such as ulcers, weakening of the liver, and changes in the blood composition can occur. Therefore, it is worth giving preference to non-pharmacological methods of treatment.
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Drugs for Treatment of Osteoarthritis
All drugs used for the treatment of osteoarthritis are divided into several categories.
#1 Anti-inflammatory therapy (anesthetics). These drugs not only relieve pain but also stop the process of cartilage destruction.
#2 Ointments. They can be applied in the initial stages of the disease, when they effectively relieve pain. They have fewer side effects than systemic anti-inflammatory medications.
#3 Acetaminophen. It has fewer side effects than other similar drugs. It helps relieve pain. However, don’t exceed its maximum dosage and read about its contraindications.
#4 Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. These drugs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and others. They assist to relieve pain and inflammation but have several side effects.
#5 COX-2 inhibitors, which are designed specially to reduce pain and inflammation (Celebrex). But they cannot be used if you suffer from severe heart, liver, or kidney diseases. Take into the compatibility with those drugs that you usually take.
#6 Glucocorticoids. They are injected directly into the joint and applied only with inflammation. They are effective in reducing pain. They cannot be used often as they contribute to the destruction of cartilage.
#7 Tablets, the action of which is aimed at restoring the cartilage of the joint. They contain glucosamine and chondroitin and should be takes for at least three months.
#8 Hyaluronic acid, which is a good lubricant for the hip and other joints. The sodium hyaluronate must be applied after the inflammation in the joint has abated, otherwise, the medication will not act.
#9 Protease inhibitors. They are applied to suppress the production of enzymes that cause the destruction of the articular cartilage.
#10 Warming compresses and ointments are aimed at strengthening the flow of blood, easing the pain, and increasing the filtration of the intra-articular fluid.
The application of drugs in the complex has a positive effect and makes it possible to forget about osteoarthritis for a long time.