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Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Several treatments for osteoarthritis are designed to reduce joint pain. Additionally, certain types of treatment may slow down cartilage deterioration within the joint and even rebuild cartilage.

Treatments to Reduce Arthritis Pain:

Exercise

Drugs
Beginning arthritis pain is often treated with Tylenol 37.  If Tylenol does not adequately control symptoms, the next line of drug therapy is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) 37
NSAIDS include:

  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • piroxicam (Feldene)
  • diclofenac (Voltaren)

NSAIDS block the formation of prostaglandins, a substance which triggers inflammation in the body.  A drawback of NSAIDs is the risk of developing stomach ulcers, which can lead to significant gastrointestinal bleeding. Stomach ulcers occur when prostaglandins which protect the stomach are blocked by the NSAIDS. For this reason, drug manufacturers have been striving to develop new medications with fewer side effects 37.

Injections
Injections are sometimes used for arthritis treatment when other medications can not be tolerated, or if oral medications do not sufficiently reduce pain. The most commonly prescribed injections are Hyalgan and Synvisc, they are derivatives of hyaluronic acid 37. Hyaluronic acid is a gelatinous fluid naturally found in healthy joints, which deteriorates with the onset of arthritis. Hyalgan and Synvisc are only approved by the FDA for use in the knee joint.

Cartilage Cell Transplant 
Arthritis is characterized by breakdown of the cartilage within a joint. Cartilage cell transplants are one way to help repair this damage. The procedure is not effective in full-blown cases of osteoarthritis, but is useful for those in the early stages of the disease. Cartilage cell transplant procedure 1:

1. A dime size piece of healthy knee cartilage is harvested by a surgeon.
2. The cells are cultured in a lab for several weeks, growing millions of cells.
3. The cultured cells are injected back into the damaged knee, where they knit themselves into the connective tissue of the joint.

Currently, only a small area about an inch wide can be repaired by this procedure. Carticel is the proprietary name of the cultured cell solution used in this procedure.  Carticel is only approved for use in the knee. A full-color electronic brochure detailing the Carticel transplant procedure is available.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture treatment is associated with a reduction in the symptoms of disability from osteoarthritis when used as a short term treatment 57.
acupuncture needles

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