November 28, 2017
Jamie Belcastro, RPh
Optimal treatments for longer lasting pain relief!
Osteoarthritis (OA), which is the most common form of arthritis, is a progressive disorder caused by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the joints. When the cartilage in the joint breaks down the bones come into contact within a joint of the body and this causes the pain and inflammation.1,2 Ultimately this leads to reduced joint mobility, as well as, stiffness, and weakness that can negatively impact an individual’s ability to perform routine tasks and consequently reduce his or her overall quality of life.
Although OA can occur in individuals of any age, its incidence increases with age, especially in those 65 years and older. OA generally occurs in older people since the body’s joints begin to endure the effects of many years of stress and strain.1,2 OA can occur in any joint, but the most commonly affected areas are the joints of the fingers, base of the thumbs, hips, knees, neck, big toes, and lower back.1-5 Without adequate pain relief, OA patients cannot perform activities of daily living and their quality of life diminishes.
Osteoarthritis Risk Factors
OA typically develops slowly and worsens over time, especially if left untreated. Risk factors can be classified as genetic, metabolic, or environmental. Common risk factors associated with OA include the following1- 5:
- Increased age
- Gender (more common in women)
- Joint injury
- Repetitive stress on joints due to certain occupations or sports
- Bad posture
- Other medical conditions, such as diabetes or gout
OA symptoms typically develop gradually, with variable severity. The most common signs and symptoms include the following1-5:
- Pain and stiffness in the affected joint after periods of inactivity such as sleeping or sitting for an extended period
- Swelling or tenderness in 1 or more joints
- Limited range of motion
- Increased pain after exercising or putting pressure on the affected joint
- Crackling or grinding sensation with joint movement
- Bone spur formation around the joint
Although there is no cure for OA, a variety of treatment options can help decrease pain and maintain joint mobility. Typically, the main goal of OA treatment is to improve the patient’s overall quality of life by relieving pain and enhancing joint mobility and function. It is unlikely that a single treatment can keep an OA patient pain free during the entire day.
The body’s pain threshold changes during the day, and when the body encounters stress from lifting or undertaking physical activities the stress placed on the affected arthritic joints increases and the pain threshold decreases.
Therefore, it is important to have an arthritis treatment that can handle the changes in your pain threshold during the day, so the OA patient can be pain free during the day.
Commonly used oral medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Flanax Pain Reliever Tablets. Topical analgesics such as capsaicin cream are also applied directly to the skin.
Flanax Liniment which contains capsaicin, menthol, and methyl salicylate provides a triple action defense to stopping pain. Using the Flanax Pain Reliever Tablets twice daily and applying the Flanax Liniment throughout the day should keep you pain free all-day long.
Your physician may also recommend corticosteroid injections for temporary pain relief. To ensure safety and avoid potential drug interactions, always consult your physician or pharmacist before taking any OTC medications, including supplements. Other therapies include physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, rest, heat and cold therapy, weight loss, and the use of support devices to take strain off joints, such as canes and splints. In some cases, surgery is warranted.
Living with Osteoarthritis
Individuals with OA can lead normal and active lives, especially if OA is identified early and treated properly. You can become an active partner in your treatment by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on weight-bearing joints
- Engaging in light regular exercise when appropriate to enhance flexibility and strength
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting sufficient rest and relaxation
- Developing means to reduce and manage stress
- Protecting your joints from injury by stretching before any exercise
1. Understanding arthritis. WEBMD website. https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/default.htm Accessed November 27, 2017.
2. Osteoarthritis. Mayo Clinic website. https://medlineplus.gov/osteoarthritis.html Accessed November 27, 2017.
3. What is osteoarthritis? Arthritis Foundation website. www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/osteoarthritis/what-you-need-to-know/osteoarthritis-is.php. Accessed November 27, 2017.
4. Osteoarthritis and you. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. www.cdc.gov/Features/OsteoarthritisPlan/. Accessed November 27, 2017.
5. Handout on health: Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/. Accessed November 27, 2017.