Here are your painkiller options your doctor may recommend if you have osteoarthritis:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
There are a number NSAIDs - such as Ibuprofen - that reduce pain by calming inflammation. NSAIDs work by blocking the activity of the enzyme involved in inflammation, cyclooxygenase, also known as COX. Traditional NSAIDs are widely prescribed in the UK and are often the first choice for doctors; however, they are linked with stomach-related side effects including indigestion, ulcers as well as other more serious complications.
- COX-2 selective inhibitors
Studies have shown that there are two forms of COX, simply known as COX-1 and COX-2. COX-2 is more closely linked with inflammation, where as COX-1 is more closely associated with tissue repair. By predominantly targeting COX-2, these medications provide pain relief without hindering the actions of COX-1. As a result, studies have shown that there are less stomach-related side effects associated with COX-2 selective inhibitors compared to NSAIDs.
Some patients with heart conditions are not suitable for all NSAIDs. Your doctor will consider the benefits versus the risk before recommending a treatment.
Medicated creams & gels
Medicated creams and gels, often termed Topical analgesics, are applied to the affected joint externally and are often recommended by doctors when painkillers alone cannot provide adequate pain relief.
- Counterirritants - wintergreen oil, camphor, eucalyptus
Steroid injections into the affected joints can sometimes help to treat painful osteoarthritis, however, all treatments have side effects and you should only go ahead with it after you've discussed it carefully with your GP.
If you're pregnant or thinking of starting a family, it's important you let your GP know, as some medicines can be harmful during pregnancy.
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