If you’re one of the 50 million North Americans living with nagging arthritis pain, don’t be discouraged by recent news about treatment duds and dangers. Plenty of safe, proven ache-easers can keep you off the sidelines and may eliminate or reduce your dependence on painkillers and postpone the need for a joint replacement.
First, some alerts and advice about well-known arthritis pain-relief treatments:
n Diclofenac is the most popular NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) in the world. But a new report says these pills could boost your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 91 percent, if taken regularly. Experts in Canada have called for a global ban. However, topical (cream) diclofenac could serve as a safer form of the drug for people looking to relieve their arthritis pain.
n Over-the-counter pain relievers (ibuprofen and acetaminophen) were once considered super-safe, but they now are known to increase the risk of heart and liver problems by 29 percent.
n Viscosupplementation, the injection of a layer of synthetic or natural hyaluronic acid into painful knee joints, can offer remarkable relief for some people. But if you are obese, inactive and don’t have good leg strength, it may not make a measurable difference in your comfort level. Even if you’re young or athletic, for no known reason there’s sometimes little benefit. And the new 3-in-1 injections are more likely to cause swelling and joint inflammation right after treatment than the original once-a-week-for-three-weeks routine (which you can still ask for). For most people, the greatest pain relief comes eight to 12 weeks after beginning treatment and can last for six months or longer.
Second, here’s what you can do to safely and effectively handle your arthritic pain. Check out this list of top, research-proven relievers, many of which haven’t gotten the attention they deserve:
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.