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Medications for Osteoarthritis

Other names: Arthritis, Osteoarthritis; Degenerative Arthritis; Degenerative joint disease; DJD; Gonarthrosis; Hypertrophic Osteoarthritis; Joint Pain; OA; Osteoarthrosis; Sacroiliac Arthritis

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a painful condition of the joints that becomes more common with age.

It is mostly due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that covers the end of each bone. It provides a smooth gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between bones.

Without cartilage, friction between bones can occur and there is a loss of the shock-absorbing capability of the joint. Inflammatory processes increase which further damages the cartilage and more pressure is placed directly onto the bones in a joint. Pressure can cause the growth of bone spurs and bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around the joint.

Obesity, injuries, and weak muscles can also contribute to osteoarthritis and it is more common in certain families.

Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in the hands, knees, hips and spine.

What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Symptoms vary depending on how many joints are affected and how severely they are affected. Symptoms also tend to build up gradually over time rather than come on suddenly and include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the affected joints, particularly first thing in the morning or after inactivity. This tends to resolve within about 30 minutes of gentle movement
  • Limited range of movement in a joint
  • Affected joints may swell after extended activity
  • Clicking or a cracking sound when a joint bends
  • Pain may also increase after activity or towards the end of the day.

Symptoms can differ depending on which joint is affected.

  • Knee joints: moving the knee causes a grating or scraping sensation
  • Hip joints: Pain may radiate down the inside of the knee or thigh or be felt in the groin or buttock area
  • Fingers: Bony growths (spurs) may occur inside the joint causing the joints to become swollen, tender and red
  • Inflammatory arthritis of the hand: All day stiffness may be noticed early in the disease
  • Feet: Swelling and pain may be felt at the base of the big toe or around the ankles.

How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and ask you about your history of symptoms and whether you have any family members with the condition. Other tests may include:

  • Blood tests to look for inflammatory markers
  • Joint aspiration to look for evidence of joint deterioration or crystals
  • X-ray of the joint to look for bone changes
  • MRI to provide a better image of cartilage changes.

Morning stiffness helps to differentiate osteoarthritis from rheumatoid arthritis. With rheumatoid arthritis, joint stiffness may not improve for several hours or it may last throughout the entire day.

How is Osteoarthritis Treated?

Treatment for osteoarthritis includes lifestyle changes and medications.

All patients with osteoarthritis should be enrolled in an exercise program because physical activity increases blood flow, and joints and muscles are supplied with more oxygen. Swimming, Tai Chi and weight-based exercises are usually suitable for people with osteoarthritis, although a physician should be consulted before starting any exercise program.

Weight loss can lower the risk of pain in weight-bearing joints and orthotics, devices that help to align joints - orthotic shoe inserts, splints, and braces can help with movement. Heat or cold therapy can also relieve joint swelling.

Medications for osteoarthritis may include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • NSAIDs
  • Topical capsaicin
  • Duloxetine
  • Cortisone injections
  • Lubricating injections.

Surgery, such as an osteotomy or joint replacement may also be considered.

Drugs Used to Treat Osteoarthritis

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rx / OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol Reviews Rating Popularity
Celebrex C N 70 reviews
7.0

Generic name: celecoxib systemic

Drug class: cox-2 inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

meloxicam C N X 165 reviews
7.1

Generic name: meloxicam systemic

Brand names:  Mobic, Vivlodex

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

diclofenac D N X 95 reviews
8.2

Generic name: diclofenac systemic

Brand names:  Voltaren, Cataflam, Zorvolex

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Mobic C N X 51 reviews
8.1

Generic name: meloxicam systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

naproxen C N X 45 reviews
6.7

Generic name: naproxen systemic

Brand names:  Aleve, Naprosyn, Naprelan, Anaprox, Aflaxen, All Day Pain Relief, All Day Relief, Anaprox-DS, EC-Naprosyn, Flanax Pain Reliever, Midol Extended Relief …show all

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Voltaren Gel C N 83 reviews
7.3

Generic name: diclofenac topical

Drug class: topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

ibuprofen C N X 3 reviews
9.5

Generic name: ibuprofen systemic

Brand names:  Advil, Motrin, A-G Profen, Actiprofen, Addaprin, Advil Liqui-Gels, Genpril, IBU-200, Midol IB, Motrin IB, Nuprin, Proprinal …show all

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Voltaren D N X 34 reviews
8.4

Generic name: diclofenac systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

celecoxib C N 78 reviews
7.1

Generic name: celecoxib systemic

Brand name:  Celebrex

Drug class: cox-2 inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

chondroitin / glucosamine N N 19 reviews
5.9

Generic name: chondroitin / glucosamine systemic

Brand names:  Osteo Bi-Flex, Schiff Move Free, Cosamin DS, Cidaflex, Glucoten, OptiFlex Complete, Pryflex, Relamine …show all

Drug class: nutraceutical products

For consumers: interactions,

Cymbalta C N X 29 reviews
6.4

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Aleve C N X 8 reviews
5.9

Generic name: naproxen systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Arthrotec X N X 22 reviews
8.6

Generic name: diclofenac / misoprostol systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

diclofenac C N 138 reviews
7.5

Generic name: diclofenac topical

Brand names:  Voltaren Gel, Pennsaid, Diclozor, Xrylix …show all

Drug class: topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Cataflam D N X 2 reviews
9.5

Generic name: diclofenac systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

prednisone C N 10 reviews
9.9

Generic name: prednisone systemic

Drug class: glucocorticoids

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Vimovo C N X 20 reviews
5.7

Generic name: esomeprazole / naproxen systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Advil C N X Add review
0.0

Generic name: ibuprofen systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

aspirin N N X 3 reviews
9.0

Generic name: aspirin systemic

Brand names:  Ecotrin, Arthritis Pain, Aspergum, Aspiritab, Aspirtab, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Aspirin Extra Strength Plus, Bufferin, Easprin, Ecpirin, Entercote, Fasprin, Genacote, Halfprin, Norwich Aspirin …show all

Drug class: salicylates, platelet aggregation inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

etodolac C N X 21 reviews
7.5

Generic name: etodolac systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Medrol Dosepak C N 2 reviews
10

Generic name: methylprednisolone systemic

Drug class: glucocorticoids

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

nabumetone C N X 14 reviews
6.6

Generic name: nabumetone systemic

Brand name:  Relafen DS

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Naprosyn C N X 5 reviews
6.0

Generic name: naproxen systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

duloxetine C N X 33 reviews
6.3

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Brand name:  Cymbalta

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Motrin C N X 1 review
10

Generic name: ibuprofen systemic

Drug class: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Alternative treatments for Osteoarthritis

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for Osteoarthritis. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of Osteoarthritis.

Learn more about Osteoarthritis

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Drugs.com Health Center

Mayo Clinic Reference

ICD-10 CM Clinical Codes (External)

Legend

Rx Prescription Only
OTC Over the Counter
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter
Off Label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

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