Osteoarthritis affects us all

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Pharmacological Treatments

There are numerous pharmacological treatments for osteoarthritis. Here are a few of them.


To treat acute pain episodes, patients with mild to moderate arthritis of the knee or hip should be administered paracetamol at a maximum dose of 4 grams (0.14oz) per day. An alternative treatment should be considered if paracetamol is not sufficiently effective, if the pain is severe or if there is inflammation.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also indicated in the treatment of pain associated with osteoarthritis. However, because they have gastrointestinal and renal adverse effects, they should be taken at the lowest effective dose and for as short a time as possible. If the patient shows a significant risk of gastrointestinal injury, the following alternatives may be considered in order to protect the gastric mucosa: they should either take selective COX-2 inhibiting anti-inflammatories (coxibs), or combine the NSAID with a proton pump inhibitor or misoprostol. In all cases, it will be essential to reduce the consumption of NSAIDs and to reserve this treatment for inflammatory outbreaks.

Local Anti-inflammatories

As an alternative or as an adjunct to oral painkillers, the use of a local NSAID may be effective against osteoarthritis of the knee. The benefit of this alternative is that it does not increase the risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects.

Curcumin-based products

Curcumin is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, which unfortunately has very poor bioavailability. Indeed, in its natural form, little to very little curcumin gets into the bloodstream. The so-called "bio-optimized" forms must therefore be favored.

SYSADOAs or Symptomatic Slow-Acting Drugs for Osteoarthritis

Symptomatic Slow Acting Drugs for Osteoarthritis such as glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate and avocado and soy unsaponifiables can relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. ‘Slow-acting’ means that their effect on the articular function and their pain-relieving action are only noticeable 4 to 6 weeks after starting the treatment. At the start of the treatment, a painkiller should be added at the lowest dose possible.


Eventually, if the pain caused by osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is not controlled or if other pharmacological treatments have not been effective or are contraindicated, physicians might recommend that their patient take a weak opiate or a narcotic analgesic. Exceptionally, and only in the case of severe pain, the patient may resort to stronger opiates.


Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any treatment.


The information and advice given on this website are not a substitute for medical advice.