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Osteoarthritis treatment

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

Certain actions can prevent and reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis including losing any excess weight, wearing shock-absorbent shoes, using a walking stick and wearing a knee brace. Taking regular exercise is important as it keeps weight down and strengthens muscles which support the joints.


There is no cure for osteoarthritis however certain medication will relieve symptoms.

Paracetamol- Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can help. Paracetamol is safe for most patients once taken within the recommended dosage limits.

NSAIDs- If the pain is more severe, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce the inflammation. These are helpful in reducing pain, swelling and stiffness. Examples include diclofenic (Difene®, Diclac®), naproxen (Naprosyn®) or etoricoxib (Arcoxia®). Ibuprofen is an NSAID available over the counter in pharmacies. NSAIDs should be avoided or used in caution with asthma and heart problems and can cause stomach ulcers if over used.

Topical preparations- Many NSAIDs are available in topical forms such as creams or gels which can be rubbed on to give a local effect (eg) Difene Gel®, Fastum Gel®. These topical forms have fewer side effects than NSAIDs taken orally. However they are likely to be less effective as less of the drug is absorbed.


Opioid Analgesics- Opioid analgesics such as tramadol are prescription only painkiller which may be considered in cases where NSAIDs are not tolerated or ineffective. However, opioids can become additive. Side effects include drowsiness, nausea and constipation.


Steroid Injections- Steroid injections into the affected joints may be a treatment option. It should only be considered where there is inflammation in the joint. However, the effects of steroid injections only last up to four weeks (often only a week) so it is not a long term solution.


Surgery should only be considered when all other options have been tried. Surgical options available have advanced recently. Some options such as realignment and hip resurfacing are available even if you have only mild osteoarthritis. Hip resurfacing is an alternate to hip replacement and is more often used in younger patients.

It involves replacing the socket where the top of leg attaches to the pelvis with a “metal socket”. The advantages of this compared to hip replacement is that it is very durable for young and active patients. It allows the patient to maintain full mobility and even return to active sports in many cases. Some research shows that there is less pain and stiffness after hip resurfacing compared to hip replacement. However more research is needed to confirm this. Patients normally can resume normal daily activities a few weeks after hip resurfacing. Hip resurfacing lasts for 10 to 15 years on average.

If you have a particularly painful joint you may need an operation to replace it. This is most commonly done for the hip and knee joints and both of these have high rates of success in improving mobility and reducing pain. With proper selection of patients, 95% of hip and knee replacements have excellent results with 95% of replacement joints lasting 15 years. 85% of hip and knee replacements are due to osteoarthritis.

Top orthopaedic surgeon coming to Mullingar to speak about Osteoarthritis

Whelehans Pharmacy in conjunction with Westmeath Branch of Arthritis Ireland is hosting an Osteoarthritis Information evening on Thursday May 12th in the Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar at 7pm. Guest speaker is consultant orthopaedic surgeon from Midland Hospital Tullamore, David Cogley, MD FRCS (Ortho). Mr Cogley will give first -hand information including surgery and aftercare for those thinking of going down this line. He will take questions from attendees. Chartered Physiotherapist Kevin Conneely MISCP of HealthStep Physiotherapy will discuss movement, exercise and the physical side of Osteoarthritis and Nutritionist Aisling Murray BSc (nutrition) will discuss how diet affects osteoarthritis. Pharmacist Eamonn Brady MPSI, will discuss medication and how to best to manage meds.

Places are limited, so call Whelehans to book your free place now on 044 9334591.

This article is shortened to fit within Newspaper space limits. More detailed information and leaflets is available in Whelehans


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