Pain. Stiffness. Swelling. Redness. These are the symptoms of arthritis, a disease affecting the joints, and they can be debilitating. There are more than one hundred arthritic conditions, but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis happens when joint cartilage wears down. In severe cases, it can cause bone to rub against bone. Osteoarthritis can be caused by wear and tear, through factors like injury, overuse, and obesity.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition. It attacks joint tissue, eating away joint linings and causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and even inflammation that spreads throughout the body.
May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. When you look at the numbers from the Arthritis Foundation, it becomes clear just how much work there is left to do to prevent, treat, cure, and ultimately reduce the number of people affected.
The state of arthritis in the U.S.
- Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
- More than 50 million adults have arthritis
- Nearly 300,000 babies, children, and teenagers have an arthritic condition
- One-third of working-age people with arthritis are severely limited by the disease
- One million hospitalizations per year happen due to arthritis
If you’re concerned about developing arthritis
Worried about developing arthritis? Unfortunately, there is a hereditary component to arthritis. If anyone in your family history has suffered from arthritis, you’ll want to take precautions. IT’s also impacted by non-changeable factors like age and gender.
Risk factors for arthritis
While rheumatoid arthritis is not preventable, smokers are at higher risk. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, has been linked to several risk factors. If you’re concerned, you can take control of these modifiable risk factors to help reduce your risk:
- Overweight and obesity
- Joint injury and overuse
Arthritis and pain treatments
While there is no cure for arthritis, there are many available treatment options for pain relief, and even for slowing disease progression. Here, you’ll find a list of some of the most common drugs available for treating the symptoms of arthritis, divided into over-the-counter (OTC) options and prescription drugs.
Over the counter arthritis pain treatment
Voltaren, a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) was first introduced in 2007 for the treating osteoarthritis pain. For years, it was prescription only, but as of 2020 it’s available over the counter. We did a review of Voltaren, on our blog when its status changed — read it here to learn more about this pain-relief gel and other topical pain relievers.
For both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, topical NSAIDs are often the first line of defense. These include common drugs like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin, which work by reducing inflammation hormones in the body to alleviate pain.
An acetaminophen product like Tylenol 8HR Arthritis Pain Relief is a good option for people concerned by some of the possible side effects of NSAIDs. Acetaminophen works as a pain reliever by blocking the brain from sending pain signals to the injured parts of the body.
Sona pharmacy offers a wide variety of pain relievers formulated to help with arthritis pain, including those mentioned above.
Prescription arthritis medications
For when OTC pain relievers aren’t enough, your doctor can prescribe a prescription-strength oral NSAID like Celebrex, Naproxen, or Relafen to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Corticosteroids, also just called steroids, are strong anti-inflammatories that can be taken in many forms: by mouth, topically as a cream or gel, intravenously, or injected directly into the affected site. Generally fast and efficient for pain relief, doctors tend to prescribe them to ease patient discomfort while waiting for disease-modifying prescriptions to fully kick in.
Unlike the pain relievers mentioned above, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can actually help slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the more recognizable brand name DMARDs include Plaquenil, Arava, and Trexall.
For cases where DMARDs aren’t powerful enough, doctors often prescribe biologics, injectables that block inflammatory pathways. These include Humira, Enbrel, Remicade, and many more.
Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors
Moving up the later in treatment strength, you have JAK inhibitors for advanced-stage arthritis, which work to affect genes and immune cell activity. These are a type of biologic. One such JAK inhibitor is Rinvoq, a once-daily tablet. If you’re curious about Rinvoq, we’ve published a clinical review where you can learn more about side effects and benefits.
Talk to your doctor if you’re dealing with arthritis and need support with pain relief. They’ll help you assess your available options and work with you to achieve the best results. And if you’re currently taking any of the above medications and have questions, feel free to call us and speak to a pharmacist. We’d be happy to help.