Arthritis Top Tips: Medications for Joint Pain

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The AgingCare.com forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips and suggestions for medications used to manage arthritis pain.

Medication Provides Relief from Arthritis Pain

“Arthritis can be very painful indeed. The side effects from narcotics prevent them from being useful for my mother and many other seniors, but I certainly wish she could have anything else that would help. The patch for pain is somewhat effective, but she can’t use it very often because of skin sensitivity to the adhesive. If less aggressive measures work for your loved one, that is the route I’d suggest, but I’d be in favor of doing whatever it takes to minimize pain. Sometimes I think we don’t acknowledge how much pain diminishes a person’s quality of life.” –jeannegibbs

“Pain patches come in two forms: ‘counter-irritants’ and narcotics. We have had much success with the narcotic patches. They are time released and will keep joints comfortable. Oftentimes they do not produce the noticeable side effects, like sleepiness and constipation, that oral medications can cause. The narcotic patches do contain opioids, so they are only available with a prescription. They still require careful use but can provide welcome relief directly to chronic pain areas.” –angelwhyspers

“I have used Synvisc injections for several years for arthritis pain in my right knee. It works very well for a period of time. Benefits have lasted between 12 and 22 months for me. I am 81 years old.” –Jgeezer81

“The use of narcotics for pain relief is greatly misunderstood. There is a big difference between addiction and dependence. I use the analogy of the diabetic who is dependent on insulin. Using narcotics where there is a genuine need for the relief of pain for a short time will not cause addiction. It is very important to treat pain before it becomes intolerable. Once it gets out of control, it is much more difficult to relieve and may require much higher doses of the drug, which increases the danger of side effects. Long-term use and developing a tolerance with the need for increasing dosage for pain relief will cause dependence.” –Veronica91

“You might discuss pain relief with a palliative care organization, since they can usually do far better with pain management than other medical departments. Most importantly, to have decent pain relief, it is important to keep up with doses of whatever the person is using and not let them ‘get behind.’ That is, avoid letting doses in the body run out. Try to keep the medication level in their blood as even as possible and avoid drops in ‘dosage coverage.’ ” –chimonger

“My mom takes tramadol for arthritis and wears a lidocaine pain patch for lower spine compression fractures. There are other stronger pain meds available through patches as well.” –BarbBrooklyn

“Have an osteopathic doctor inject hyaluronic acid into the joint, which is approved by the FDA. We produce this substance naturally in our bodies. I had it done for one of my knees, and it feels great! I might add that Medicare pays for this!” –ferris1

“My dad was given a very low dose of Percocet for a back surgery but actually found it worked much better on his knee pain. I had a conversation with the orthopedic doctor about addiction, but finally said, ‘I don’t care if he is addicted. He is 85 years old. Let him enjoy life with minimal pain.’ ” –Rosebush

“Doctors are very cautious when it comes to pain medications and risk for addiction, so they seem to under-prescribe them. Many don’t appreciate the pain elders have ALREADY been through and don’t realize that they could be more responsive to their pain needs. For example, my mom was in rehab at a skilled nursing facility and they were giving me notice that she needed to be discharged because she wasn’t ‘cooperating’ with her rehabilitation and wasn’t ‘progressing.’ I knew and could see that she wanted to cooperate, but she was in too much pain when the physical therapist came to work with her. I called her orthopedic doctor in frustration and he overrode the resident doctor, upgraded her pain medication and ordered that she receive it exactly 30 minutes before physical therapy. Mom began to ‘cooperate’ and her recovery started going much more smoothly. You just have to stay on top of everything and everybody to find something that works.” –CarolLynn

“I highly recommend Cymbalta. It has been approved for the treatment of musculoskeletal and back pain. My cousin fell and fractured her spine last year and was in considerable pain. Cymbalta made a huge difference. She has dementia, but she was able to tell us how her back hurt a lot. After the Cymbalta, she said it didn’t bother her anymore. She also has arthritis in her back for which she was on disability, but the Cymbalta keeps that pain down too. It has been of great benefit to her. If you aren’t getting anywhere with a current doctor, I also recommend adding a geriatric doctor to the mix. My experience with orthopedic doctors is that they aren’t familiar with how to treat seniors. My cousin’s geriatrician recommended the Cymbalta for her back pain, not her orthopedist.” –Sunnygirl1

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