Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, and osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear, are common sources of joint damage. Pain management for either of these conditions can include a wide range of medications, depending on many factors.
Weight loss: For many patients, this can help remove stress and pressure on damaged joints.
Activity avoidance or adaptation: Avoiding or limiting particular activities will often provide a basic level of pain relief. It may be helpful to switch some or all exercise to a different type of activity from running to swimming, for example to limit stress.
Movement and physical therapy: For many patients, regular exercise that includes aerobic and strength training is important in preserving mobility. Strengthening the muscles around the damaged joint will help to reduce strain.
OTC medication: In mild cases, over the counter acetaminophen or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be an effective first-line treatment.
Prescription medication: The next step includes prescriptions for higher-dose NSAIDs or specialized medicines like COX-2 inhibitors, a type of NSAID that targets a particular enzyme causing inflammation. Opiates may be used for flare-ups and other shorter term situations. Another form of medication, topical pain creams, has been shown in some studies to have over 80% rates of effectiveness.
TENS units: This is a type of electrical stimulator that uses a small device connected to electrodes that are attached to the skin near the site of pain. It is thought to help interrupt or pain signals being sent to the brain and change perception.
Hyaluronic acid: This is a naturally occurring joint lubricant. Supplemental injections are thought to promote both easier joint movement and repair and regrowth of damaged cartilage. In some studies, at least 65 percent of patients showed good results for up to a year.
Regenerative injections: Injections of platelet-rich plasma, or of stem cells derived from bone marrow or fat stores, are newer forms of treatment that show promise for genuine repair rather than simple pain relief.
Corticosteroids: These drugs block the production of the compounds that trigger inflammation. This inflammation is what causes arthritis pain. Studies have shown 75 to 80 percent pain relief by using these injections up the three times a year.In the past, they have been thought to potentially cause worse joint damage, but more recent studies suggest this is less likely to be the case.
Alternative treatments: Some patients report benefits from less conventional therapies, such as acupuncture or chiropractic treatment.Although not all of these have been well studied, they are typically not harmful can be worth considering as part of an overall treatment regimen.
Surgical options: As a last resort for severe arthritis that continues to limit quality of life, joint replacement might be considered. Since these parts have a limited lifespan, it may not be the best option for younger patients.
There are a lot of factors to consider before starting any treatment regimen, including the severity of the case and the patient’s overall health. Pain clinics in Las Vegas work with each individual patient to determine what might be helpful and what kind of treatment the patient is comfortable with.