TREATMENT & MEDICATIONS

There is no FDA recognized cure for any type of arthritis. Each person reacts differently to the various types of arthritis. Some common treatments to help manage symptoms include medications, surgery, and natural remedies.

Medications

  • Analgesics: drugs designed specifically to relieve pain. There are several types of analgesics: acetaminophen (Tylenol), which is available without a prescription, and a variety of opioid analgesics, which are available only with a prescription.
  • Biologics: also referred to as biologic response modifiers, are medications genetically engineered from a living organism, such as a virus, gene or protein, to simulate the body’s natural response to infection and disease.
  • Corticosteroids: sometimes called glucocor­ticoids, are medications that mimic the effects of the hormone cortisol, which is produced naturally by the adrenal glands.
  • DMARDs: disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs slow or stop the inflammatory process that can damage the joints and internal organs.
  • NSAIDs: used to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and related conditions. They are also have many uses outside of arthritis treatment, such as lowering fevers, easing tooth aches, and relieving muscle aches from strenuous physical activity or the flu.

Surgery

Because arthritis affects different parts of the body, multiple surgeries exist to combat specific symptoms. Some of the more common surgeries include: 

  • Arthroscopy: surgeons make small incisions with specialized instruments and a tiny camera to fix tears in soft tissues around the knee, hip, shoulder and other joints; repair damaged cartilage; and remove broken, free-floating cartilage pieces.
  • Joint Resurfacingsurgeons replace the damaged area with an implant or cap it with a metal, dome-shaped prosthesis.
  • Osteotomy: involves cutting and removing bone or adding a wedge of bone near a damaged joint. In the knee, for example, an osteotomy shifts weight from an area damaged by arthritis to an undamaged area. In the hip it is often used to correct misalignment (hip dysplasia) that occurs early in life.
  • Synovectomysurgeons remove most or all of the affected synovium, either in a traditional, open surgery or by using arthroscopy.
  • Arthrodesis (fusion): surgeons use pins, plates, rods or other hardware to join two or more bones in the ankles, wrists, thumbs, fingers or spine, making one continuous joint. Over time the bones grow together and lock the joint in place.  
  • Total Joint Replacement: the damaged joint is replaced with an implant that mimics the motion the natural joint and is made from combinations of metal, plastic and/or ceramic components.

Learn more at the Arthritis Foundation.