Saturday, October 30, 2010

Understanding Arthritis Treatment: Is there any cure?

I am sure most of us might have heard the word arthritis. Yes! it is one of the most common problems in all age groups though causes may vary. These days, the word arthritis is commonly used by layman for joint pain, but its meaning for medical professional may be little bit different.

Although many people perceive arthritis as a joint pain but in reality arthritis is an inflammation of joint, which may present with various symptoms and one of them is pain. The medical terminology for joint pain is arthralgia. As I stated arthritis is a common problem in all age group but causes can be drastically different. In general, an arthritis that affect children is called juvenile arthritis whereas all others are addressed with some additional word such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, autoimmune arthritis. Even though all these diseases contain the word arthritis, they are totally different diseases.

I must say that if you ever had arthritis, then you might recall joint pain, swelling, redness, increase local temperature and decrease joint movement. Yes, it is an awful moment and you certainly want to get rid of it as soon as possible. As with any other diseases, recovery from arthritis depends upon the severity and cause of arthritis. There are wide number of causes that can lead to arthritis ranging from trauma, infection, aging, autoimmune disease or systematic diseases. The most commonly used conservative measures to get rid of symptoms are rest, anti inflammatory pain meds, ice pack/heating pad. Even though most of the patients will have significant improvement with the above conservative measures, these treatment modalities do not cure arthritis permanently.

Unless we overcome the cause of arthritis and reverse the damage caused by it, it is not possible to cure arthritis. I think cure is an ultimate success for which we are struggling each day to reduce suffering of millions of people. The word cure can be only used for  a small proportion of arthritis caused by infection or systematic disease, if treated in early phase of disease people may recover completely without any residual problems. However, with advancing medical science and technology, we are able to offer a lot of treatment options which will take care of your problem. Depending upon the nature of problem, you may require regular medication or off and on treatment.

In cases of trauma and osteoarthritis, conservative measures are the 1st line of treatment and the majority of people will benefit from it. There are many other medications that are used for arthritis such as pain meds (Tramadol, Opiods, Tylenol), Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac), counterirritants (Menthol, Capsaicin), disease modifying drugs (Methotrexate, Hydroxychloroquine), biologics (Infliximab, Etanercept), and corticosteroid (prednisone, cortisone). In addition, physiotherapy is helpful in some of the cases. If none of these measures work, your doctor may suggest you for surgery.

Even though many people would try OTC anti inflammatory meds for arthritis, these drugs are associated with a lot of side effects and our major concerns are drug induced stomach ulcers. If you are required to take these meds for a longer time, then you are at risk. Recently, a new medication called celecoxib is approved by FDA for arthritis treatment. It is a selective COX 2 inhibitor and is rarely associated with stomach ulcers. Thus, I would encourage you to go for celecoxib as fas as GIT side effects are concerned. You can read more about celecoxib from click here.

Some other tips that are helpful in arthritis are weight reduction, regular exercise, and use of device (canes, walkers) to reduce stress on your joint. Even though we don't have cure at this time, but currently available treatment options have certainly minimized our suffering and disability to a certain extent. In near future, you may expect to see new treatment modalities which may cure arthritis.

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