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Arthritis Treatment - Pharmaceutical

General Treatment

The general medical treatment for all types of arthritis involves reducing pain and inflammation with any or all of the following medications:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS). If the over-the-counter medications are not strong enough, prescription NSAIDS may be prescribed, such as Diclofenac or Naproxen.
  • Anti-inflammatory creams and gels that are rubbed directly on the affected joint.
  • Cortisone injected directly into the affected joint is an option to reduce local inflammation. Cortisone is a naturally occurring hormone that, when given as an injection, reduces inflammation. However, there usually are limitations regarding how many of these injections can be administered.
One of the newest treatments involves using Botox injections. One small study showed Botox injection helped arthritis sufferers. Exactly why Botox may work in arthritis is unknown, but it appears to be able to block pain perception. The research is too new to decide if using Botox will work for all sufferers of arthritis.

Condition-Specific Treatment

All types of arthritis are treated with pain and anti-inflammatory medications, and then the specific disease is addressed:

  • Gout: The traditional treatment for gout is colchicine, which is an extract from the Autumn Crocus plant. This medication is only available through prescription. Probenecid is a drug that helps the kidneys remove uric acid from the body. Allopurinol is another medication used in gout that blocks production of uric acid.
  • Pseudogout: There are no treatments that help to dissolve the crystals in pseudogout, and people with this condition have to rely on anti-inflammatory and pain medications alone.
  • Infectious arthritis: Antibiotics are used if the infectious agents are bacteria, and antifungal medications are used if the joint is infected with a fungus. There are no anti-viral medications given when the joint is infected with a virus.
  • Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease): The most common treatment for osteoarthritis is the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Occasionally, medical treatments involve cortisone injections directly to the joint to help reduce inflammation. An injection of hyaluronic acid, which is a lubricant, may also be used.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is unique because it is an autoimmune disease. The medical treatment for this disease is quite varied, as practitioners attempt many different treatment approaches. Often practitioners will shuffle through approaches until they find one that works. A group of medications called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that include drugs such as methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, minocycline, cyclosporine, and others are used.

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