Approved osteoarthrits medicine may be effective at relieving pain, but is also accompanied by negative side effects and in some cases increased risk of developing life threatening diseases. For example, Vioxx was an approved osteoarthritis medication that was recalled because an alarming number of patients experienced heart attacks, strokes or blood clots.
Bextra, a COX-2 inhibitor similar to Vioxx, was removed from the market for the same reasons and because of a link to Stevens Johnson Syndrome and other skin disorders. Celebrex, also a COX-2 inhibitor, is still on the market but it and all other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs carry a warning label that “users may face an increased risk of cardiovascular side effects and gastrointestinal bleeding”.
Another approved osteoarthritis medicine is prednisone and other corticosteroids. Corticosteroids, when taken orally, can increase blood sugar levels, particularly in diabetics. Long term use can cause dependence, depression, fatigue, blurred vision and abdominal pain. A safer and increasingly popular use for this type of osteoarthritis medication is injection directly into the affected joint.
Approved osteoarthritis medicine includes narcotic pain relievers, such as Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine and Oxycodone. The makers of Oxycodone were recently required to pay millions of dollars in damages because sales representatives were told to advise doctors that the drug was less addictive than other narcotics, when in actuality it is one of the most addictive.
Side effects of this type of osteoarthritis medication include liver damage when accompanied by alcohol use; this side effect also accompanies the use of non-narcotic over the counter Tylenol and other acetaminophen products. Less serious side effects include constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth and difficulty urinating. It should also be noted that narcotic pain relievers do not reduce inflammation, but work by blocking pain receptors in nerve cells.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is becoming increasingly popular among arthritis sufferers. Although CAM therapies cannot be classified as “approved” osteoarthritis medicine, some additional form of therapy is recommended by most doctors. Therapies may include dietary changes, increased physical activity or nutritional supplements.
Fish oil products cannot be labeled as osteoarthritis medication, because of FTC regulations. However, omega 3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements are used by 11.7% of people who use natural products for health reasons.
Clinical studies have shown that when used on a regular basis, omega 3 fatty acids improve joint mobility and decrease pain. People whose blood does not clot properly or who have conditions which include bleeding (bleeding ulcers, for example) should avoid omega 3 supplementation, because it thins the blood like aspirin, but otherwise, there are no known detrimental side effects, only additional health benefits for heart and brain.
On the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website, they state:
“Several articles reviewing the research in this area conclude that omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduce tenderness in joints, decrease morning stiffness, and allow for a reduction in the amount of medication needed for people with rheumatoid arthritis.”
Moreover, they say: “….several test tube studies of cartilage-containing cells have found that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and reduce the activity of enzymes that destroy cartilage. Similarly, New Zealand green lipped mussel….another potential source of omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce joint stiffness and pain, increase grip strength, and enhance walking pace in a small group of people with osteoarthritis.
There may be newly approved osteoarthritis medicine in the future. But, in our opinion, it makes more sense to try healthy natural alternatives first.
In the end, you should speak to a health professional to understand your options, but be sure to ask them about potential side effects, although, unfortunately, not all of them can be known in advance, which is why Vioxx was sold for years before it was realized it was responsible for numerous deaths.