• There are a variety of medications available for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA), including oral (by mouth) medications (analgesics, natural health products, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)), topical (on the skin) medications, and joint injections.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a type of medication used in the treatment of arthritis that help relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation (redness or warmth).

  • Although acetaminophen relieves pain, it does not reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen causes few side effects and is used as a pain reliever for mild-to-moderate OA. Your doctor may recommend narcotic pain relievers, often combined with acetaminophen, if your OA pain is severe and other medications aren't working, or if you can't take NSAIDs. Narcotic pain relievers may reduce pain effectively but they do not reduce inflammation. Narcotic pain relievers include medications such as codeine, oxycodone, morphine, oxymorphone, tramadol, and fentanyl.

  • Topical (applied to the skin) pain relievers treat OA pain locally without most of the side effects that go along with taking medications by mouth. Medications that may be applied topically include NSAIDs, capsaicin, methyl salicylate, and trolamine salicylate.

  • There are 2 kinds of injections that are used to treat OA. Your doctor will inject these medications directly into the joint that is affected by OA.

  • Glucosamine sulfate is a popular natural health product for treating OA. Chondroitin sulfate, another alternative therapy, helps relieve symptoms of bone and joint pain. Other alternative therapies include herbal products, diets, homeopathy, mind-body interventions, manual healing, electromagnetic therapy, and acupuncture.


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