3 Tips For Managing Osteoarthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis is a common ailment that not only degrades one's quality of life but can limit independence. When your arthritis progresses and simple at-home care is no longer effective, there are ways to manage pain and reduce physical limitations.

Consider Pain Reducers

Most people with osteoarthritis rely on over-the-counter medication to manage osteoarthritis, but you might reach a point when these medications are no longer effective, or you must take them more often than recommended. At this point, you should consider prescription medications that might be more effective in managing your pain. Prescription anti-inflammatory medications can be more effective than their retail counterparts. Since these medications often require trial-and-error, you might need to try different variations before one is helpful. Another form of anti-inflammatory medications, COX-2 inhibitors, might be an option depending on your health risks and doctor's opinion. There is one still available on the market, but many are no longer available due to cardiovascular risks.

Ask About Transdermal/External Products

Prescription treatments that are applied to the skin is another option. This can reduce the risks associated with the use of medications that might affect the stomach or have bleeding risks. Some oral prescription anti-inflammatory medications are also manufactured as a gel, which can be applied directly to the site of pain. Another option is the use of lidocaine gels or patches. Although lidocaine can be purchased at retail, the maximum concentration is only 4%. The concentrations available by prescription can be significantly higher and more effective. Much like oral medications, anything topical should be used judiciously because the effectiveness decreases over time. Additionally, you might experience skin irritation or itching with frequent use.

Request A Referral

Addressing osteoarthritis in the earlier stages may help delay disease progression and improve pain. You should consider a referral to a physical therapist for an earlier intervention of an arthritic joint if you are noticing declines in your ability to perform routine tasks. In addition to exercises prescribed by your physical therapists, they can make recommendations for lifestyle changes and other activities you should try to reduce pain. If your weight-bearing joints are affected by arthritis, they will likely suggest a visit to a nutritionist for weight loss. Other activities they might suggest are swimming, water aerobics, or specific machines at the gym that can reduce the impact on your arthritic joint. The goal is to stay or become active and minimize the effects of arthritis on your life.

Although some people may need surgery to alleviate arthritis pain, the condition can be managed in the earlier stages with help from your family physician.