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Medications to treat arthritis include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, steroid medications, and several classes of medications directed to treat certain blood changes associated with arthritis. Aspirin, over the counter pain medications, and topical creams can be used to treat sore joints.
Drugs that slow joint damage are methotrexate, , sulfa salazine and leflunomide. Biologics include etanercept, certolizumab, adalimumab, infliximab, abatacept, rituximab, and anakinra. High price and increase risk of infection while on these medications are the major difficulties associated with the use of these medications. Corticosteroids can be given by mouth or injected into joints. Infections, cataracts, and weak bones as well as obesity complicate the use of this treatment. Viscosupplementation can also be used in joints including hyaluronic acid to relieve joint pain. Antidepressants can also be used to treat chronic pain.
Consultation with a physical therapist leads to a full evaluation of joint pain, stiffness, and muscle weakness. A prescription for treatment is provided to address and resolve the issues identified by the evaluation. Care and therapy are provided at the physical therapist’s office. Exercises may be prescribed to improve mobility. Physical therapists can also instruct patients on how to use aids such as a cane, walker, brace, special shoes, and devices to help with hand grip.
Occupational therapy is a specialty that provides advice on performing activities of daily living with success. The therapist performs a clinical exam to evaluate the patient's strength, offers advice, and may prescribe orthotics.
Clinical trials test new treatments and new ways to use older medications to treat medical problems associated with arthritis. There are risks and benefits to participation in a clinical trial. Not every patient gets the new medication so you may risk no treatment for your condition. The trial will allow you free care and access to free medications. You may experience side effects to the test medication or no effects at all because you are receiving a placebo. Current ongoing research projects include evaluating the role of exercise to treat arthritis, herbal remedies in arthritis, heredity and arthritis, joint aspiration and arthritis, neck pain and arthritis, and pregnancy and rheumatic disease. A list of current research projects in arthritis can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Infusion therapy in rheumatology provides special medication, which must be delivered directly to the bloodstream, to prevent damage to bones and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, vasculitis and osteoporosis can be treated with special infusion therapy.
Acupuncture, dietary supplements and massage therapy are provided to patients with arthritis. Dietary additives for arthritis include glucosamine and chondroitin.