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Arthritis and Pain Killers
Arthritis or inflammation of the joints is a common problem in advancing years and is one of the three most common health problems in older people. There are several types of arthritis, among which osteoarthritis is the most common. Osteoarthritis, strictly speaking, is not an inflammatory condition but an age-related degenerative disease. This condition strikes the weight-bearing joints of lower limbs, neck and back along with those of the hands. Pain may come and go and can vary from mild to severe. Most forms of arthritis are neither preventable nor curable. The goal of treatment of arthritis is to relieve pain and restore the functions in the affected joints.
Treatment schedule of arthritis includes rest, weight reduction, physiotherapy, exercise and drug therapy to relieve pain. Arthritis medicines are among the most commonly used medicines by older people. Among all pain killers non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the ones most frequently prescribed. These drugs block the production of chemicals in the body that cause pain, stiffness and swelling. It often takes from a few days to a week before NSAIDs start to work and 2 to 3 weeks before the full benefits of treatment are felt. Some of the most frequently used NSAIDs are listed below. Most of these pain-relieving drugs have similar effect and side-effects.
Side-effects of NSAIDs
Along with the much-needed pain relief, NSAIDs may cause unwanted side-effects in some people. The side-effects include stomach ulcers, heartburn, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastrointestinal bleeding can manifest as blood vomiting or black stools. NSAIDs can also cause headache, dizziness and blurred vision.
You must report to your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms. In some cases, it may be necessary to adjust the treatment in order to keep the side-effects to a minimum. To reduce the side-effects, NSAIDs should be taken after food. In addition, an anti-ulcer drug, omeprazole (brand name Omez, Ocid, Protoloc) prevents stomach ulcers NSAID-induced stomach problems are more common in smokers and alcoholics.
Corticosteroid also reduces inflammation in some types of arthritis. Taken orally or injected into the inflamed joint, corticosteroid rapidly reduces the inflammation and relieves pain temporarily.
Corticosteroid, however, has serious side-effects which include reduced resistance
to infection, indigestion, weight gain, loss of muscle power, mood changes, blurred
vision, cataract, diabetes, brittle bones (osteoporosis) and high blood pressure.
People with chronic arthritis often explore alternative systems of medicine. Several pills, gadgets and diets have been suggested as cure for arthritis. Because arthritis pain can come and go, many people believe that these cures really work. You should be careful of any pill or device that promises miracles as most arthritis is incurable.