Arthritis Treatment

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Treatment and management of arthritis depends on the type and severity of the condition.

Aims of arthritis treatment

Goals of treatment of arthritis include:

  • Every individual should be treated for his or her particular type and severity of arthritis
  • There is not best treatment for any type of arthritis. Every individual with a particular type of arthritis may respond differently to different treatments and more than one therapy may be tried before symptom relief is achieved
  • Treatment should be guided by regular follow up and feedback on treatment from the patient. This is considered as valuable in diagnosis and management as information from X rays and laboratory test results.
  • The aim of therapy should be to improve joint function and relieve pain
  • Arthritis cure is not always possible and aim to be to provide maximum symptom relief so as to improve the quality of life.

Common treatments for arthritis

Common treatments that are applicable for most forms of arthritis include:

  • rest, relaxation
  • physical therapy
  • monitored exercises
  • joint mobilization
  • healthy diet
  • weight loss
  • water therapy
  • health and cold fomentation therapy
  • joint care advice
  • devices such as splints, braces, crutches, wheelchairs etc. for improved mobility
  • physical and occupational therapy can help impairments and activity limitations

Patients may undergo surgery to restore function or to relieve pain and sometimes to introduce prosthetic joint replacements for better mobility. The therapy plan is developed in conjunction with the patient and a multidisciplinary team.

Arthritis drugs

Drugs are used in many forms of arthritis. The type of drug depends on the condition and on the individual patient. Most of these drugs do not provide a cure but rather limit the symptoms. One of the exceptions is arthritis that is caused by an infection, in which antibiotics can cure the condition.

Medications that may be used in various types of arthritis include:

  • Analgesics or pain relievers – These are drugs like Acetaminophen (Paracetamol), Ibuprofen, Diclofenac etc. They belong to the class Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Pain relievers may be applied locally over the joint as creams, ointments and sprays or may be taken as pills
  • Antibiotics – these are useful in infection joint arthritis
  • Corticosteroids are also used in many rheumatic and auto-iimmune conditions because they reduce swelling and block or slow down the immune system.
  • In rheumatoid arthritis Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and Biologic response modifiers may be tried. These often serve to stop the progress of the disease
  • Hyaluronic acid substitutes and nutritional supplements like Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are used to prevent bone loss
  • Allopurinol is an enzyme inhibitor that is used in gout.

Reviewed by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Further Reading

 

Last Updated: Dec 3, 2012

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