Among the medications that are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis are acetaminophen and NSAIDs. These products are effective at relieving pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. A few other drugs that a healthcare provider may prescribe include hyaluronic acid, corticosteroids, and mild narcotic pain relievers. Most of these medicines have the potential to cause side effects, such as heartburn, dizziness, and abdominal pain.
An Overview of Osteoarthritis MedicationsHealthcare providers prescribe medication for osteoarthritis to eliminate or reduce pain and to improve functioning. But not every medicine is right for every situation. Therefore, healthcare providers consider a number of factors when choosing drugs for a particular person. Some of these factors include:
- The intensity of the pain
- The potential side effects of the medicine
- Other medical conditions the person has
- Other medications the person is taking
- Other osteoarthritis medicines that have been tried in the past.
The following types of medicines are commonly used for treating osteoarthritis:
AcetaminophenAcetaminophen (Tylenol®) is often the first medication osteoarthritis doctors recommend, since it is safe relative to some other drugs and it is effective against pain. The medicine is a pain reliever, but it does not reduce swelling. Acetaminophen does not irritate the stomach and is less likely than NSAIDs to cause long-term side effects. Research has shown that acetaminophen relieves pain as effectively as NSAIDs for many people living with osteoarthritis.
Among the people who should use acetaminophen with caution are those with liver disease, those who drink alcohol heavily, and those who take blood-thinning medicines or NSAIDs.