Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. It affects nearly 9 million people in the UK in the form of Osteoarthritis. This starts when the smooth cartilage lining the joint roughens or thins as a result of age, injury, gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
The result is swelling, pain and stiffness of the joint because the tendons and ligaments of the joint have reacted by working harder. Sometimes bony spurs called Osteophytes form on the surface of the bone making the symptoms worse.
Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone altering the shape of the joint forcing the bones out of their normal position An example of this is the bowing of the leg when the knee is affected.
The most commonly affected joints are hands, knees, spine and hips. The main symptoms of Osteoarthritis in these joints are swelling, pain and stiffness when moving the joint. Knees grate or make a crackling sound when moving. Hips are similar. Hands can become gnarled and knobbly. The spine can become twisted or curved out of place.
Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly despite the symptoms. Exercise builds up muscle, relieves stress and strengthens the joint. The pain and stiffness can be relieved using creams and gels. Ice compresses relieve swelling.
- Paracetamol can be effective in reducing pain.
- Co-codamol tablets are stronger but contain Codeine which can cause constipation and a laxative may be necessary.
- Diclofenac Tablets are very effective in improving mobility by reducing pain and acting as an anti-inflammatory, but it is extremely important that the maximum dose of 150mg each day for short periods of time is strictly observed. It is also important that a proton pump inhibitor is taken with Diclofenac eg Nexium or Omeprazole.
- Athrotec Tablets combine Diclofenac with a proton pump inhibitor but the 150mg maximum must still be observed.
- Voltarol Rapid Tablets contain 50mg Diclofenac but again maximum dose of 150mg daily must be observed and a PPI may be necessary.
- Diclomax Capsules contain a slow release form of 75mg Diclofenac. One capsule twice a day is the maximum dose.
- Naproxen Gastro-resistant tablets treat arthritis by reducing pain and swelling. A PPI may be required
- Indometacin Capsules is am anti-inflammatory drug and a PPI may be required as with all of these drugs.