Pharmacological interventions include management of pain using oral medications/supplements, topical medicines, and injections.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - NSAIDs are found to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation in joints. NSAIDs are generally safe in appropriate doses and for relatively short periods of time. NSAIDs may cause gastrointestinal upset, ulcers, or kidney damage. Patients who are on certain antihypertensives should seek medical advice before trying NSAIDs.
- Weak and strong opioids - Opioids are rarely prescribed for osteoarthritis and no longer recommended by the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) to control joint pain. Opioids are usually reserved for postoperative or fracture pain that is not controlled by non-narcotic medications.
- Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biological agents - Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work by slowing the progression of disease and offer symptomatic relief. Biological agents are the antibodies against the disease-causing agents manufactured using genetic engineering technology. These agents are recommended in individuals with severe disease and usually prescribed by a rheumatologist.