Osteoarthritis medication – different options for treatment
When it comes to treatment, there is still no medication that can cure osteoarthritis. However, non-prescription, anti-inflammatory medications that can be purchased at the drugstore can provide relief. These medications should not be considered complete treatment. The medications that are offered have primarily pain-relieving qualities and provide only temporary relief. For truly severe cases of osteoarthritis, cortisone injections into the joint may be needed. However, this is not recommended over the long term.
Glucosamine and hyaluronic acid as osteoarthritis medication
Glucosamine is the name of a bodily substance that is important in the formation of cartilage and synovial fluid. Glucosamine has been available as a dietary supplement in health food stores for a long time but was registered as an actual medication in 2002. Hyaluronic acid is another substance that is found naturally in the synovial fluid and is thought to protect the joint. With osteoarthritis, it is believed that the levels of hyaluronic acid in the synovial fluid decrease. Hyaluronic acid is a medication that can therefore be injected into the joint.
Since both of these medications have little scientific evidence behind them, public subsidies for both glucosamine and hyaluronic acid were removed in 2010. They are no longer included in the one-year limit for medical care expenses, under the Swedish healthcare system. This means that the medication can be purchased at a pharmacy – but the patient is responsible for the entire cost. It is no cheaper if the medication is prescribed by a physician.
However, evidence-based research has not been able to demonstrate that any of these substances have any actual effect on osteoarthritis. The studies regarding glucosamine and hyaluronic acid have been shown to have the same effect as a placebo. A medication that is in the placebo category is essentially ineffective. It is the affected person’s belief that the medication will work that ultimately determines the effect.
Recommended medicine for osteoarthritis in the form of medications
Having medications prescribed by a physician first requires a review of the overall clinical picture in order to obtain a diagnosis. If it is osteoarthritis that is causing the most trouble in the form of pain and swelling, pain-relieving medications and anti-inflammatory preparations can primarily be offered. The medications that are foremost recommended are those medications that provide good and safe pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects. These include paracetamol (usually Alvedon and Panodil) as well as NSAID (usually Ibumetin, Diklofenak and Naproxen). When it comes to quick pain relief, these are some of the best medications for mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
If we are looking for different treatment methods that have been scientifically proven, the results will point to the most fundamental and clinically proven treatment: exercise. Long-term, guided exercises have been shown to have a clearly positive effect on osteoarthritis.
For the best results, exercise and training should be combined with education and information. When people read about osteoarthritis, it is easy to come across a lot of half-truths and misleading information. Therefore, it is best to stick with reliable and medically reviewed sources such as osteoarthritis.org
Prescribed exercise as osteoarthritis medication
The training and exercise should be customized based on the affected individual. If a person is suffering from osteoarthritis, it is important to listen to the body signals and recognize how intense the pain is. Obviously, starting a program of exercise on painful and stiff joints cannot be entirely pain-free. In that case, it is important to customize the training so that the exercise is performed in such a way that it can be tolerated without injury or more discomfort. Therefore, it is important to perform the exercises for osteoarthritis together with a trained physiotherapist, for example.
In the long run, even the simple customized exercises produce an effect. By keeping the joint that is affected by osteoarthritis in motion, the muscles are strengthened and cartilage development is stimulated. This leads to better stability and consequently less pain. At the patient education programs throughout the country, or via the app Joint Academy, physiotherapists and occupational therapists work on both theoretical and practical exercises. Motion that is performed in a controlled and safe manner causes no injury to the joint. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals with osteoarthritis get help from a patient education program to create individually designed exercises to treat osteoarthritis.
Cortisone as osteoarthritis medication
Cortisone is short for glucocorticoid and is used primarily as an injection in severe cases of osteoarthritis and rheumatism. This osteoarthritis medication has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, and the preparation is suitable for both small and large inflamed joints. The most common injection treatment is performed via a needle that injects cortisone directly into the joint. This is usually performed three times with an interval of 2-4 weeks, depending on the clinical picture and the strength of the preparation. A cortisone treatment is considered to be very effective, but only offers temporary pain relief. Therefore, this should not be seen as a permanent solution. There are also studies that show that cortisone can damage the cartilage if it is used for longer periods of time.