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Health and Fitness

Medications for joint pain, osteoarthritis and arthritis

Joint pain affects 40% of the population and greatly affects their quality of life. It can present itself in various forms, tendinitis, bursitis, gout, osteoarthritis, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, osteoarthritis, among others.

Types of joint pain


Caused by injury to a tendon (the attachment of muscle to bone).

It occurs with inflammation, irritation or swelling of the tendon. The most frequent tendinitis is that of the elbow, heel, shoulder and wrist.


Injury caused by inflammation of the bursa, a small bag that protects and cushions bones and other parts of the body such as muscles, tendons, or skin.

It occurs when a joint is overused or from an injury. It usually occurs in the knees or elbows.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects the hyaline cartilage that covers the bone surface of synovial joints (knee, hip, hand joints…).

It is not a static process, but a chronic disease that develops over many years.

Osteoarthritis is caused by an imbalance between the mechanisms of regeneration and degeneration of cartilage.

An alteration of chondrocyte metabolism occurs that leads to a thinning of the cartilage, associated with regenerative bone changes.

It causes slow-onset, deep, poorly localized pain that increases with movement and improves with rest.

As the disease progresses, the pain becomes continuous and may appear even at rest. Joint stiffness may also appear.

Joint deformities appear throughout the course of the disease.


It is a systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by causing chronic inflammation of the joints, which produces progressive destruction with different degrees of deformity and functional disability.

It can cause damage to cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments of the joints as well as to various organs and systems.

The most common types of arthritis are:

  • Drop
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (in adults)
  • Psoriasic arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
  • Reactive arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome)
  • scleroderma
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • gonococcal arthritis
  • Other bacterial arthritis

Joint pain treatment

The pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis is based in a first phase on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which control pain.

Topical NSAIDs or capsaicin (ointment, cream, nebulizer, or spray) may be helpful in superficial joints. If the pain does not subside with NSAIDs and considerably limits daily activity, Tramadol is usually prescribed, alone or associated with Paracetamol.

In more severe cases, intra-articular injections with corticosteroids may be recommended.

Chondroitin sulfate or hyaluronic acid moderately relieve pain weeks after application, thereby reducing the consumption of NSAIDs. Infiltrations of cortisone derivatives or hyaluronic acid can be effective.

In the case of arthritis, corticosteroids help reduce inflammation. They quickly relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness, and can be given by injection directly into the joint (infiltration) as well as by mouth.

The autoimmune component of the disease can be treated with immune system modulators such as: etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, abatacept, rituximab, golimumab, certolizumab, and tocilizumab.

Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine or cyclophosphamide, are used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis when other medications have failed.

Local heat can temporarily relieve joint pain, and can be applied in the form of water baths (in osteoarthritis of the hands), electric blanket or similar.

Aerobic exercise (swimming, walking) practiced regularly helps control the disease and prevent muscle atrophy.

Losing weight is very important, especially in osteoarthritis of the knee, and it can also reduce pain in other load-bearing joints, such as the hip and lumbar spine.

If you want to ask any questions about joint pain, leave us a comment, one of our Online Pharmacists will advise you.

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