Conventional medical treatment of osteoarthritis pain consists primarily of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain relievers, such as piroxicam (Feldene®). These medications often relieve symptoms, but they can cause serious side effects. NSAIDs can cause peptic ulcer and, less common, kidney or liver failure. And there is even evidence from both laboratory experiments with animals with experimental OA and clinical observation of humans that some (but not all) NSAIDs may actually accelerate joint destruction.
These pain relievers interfere with the regeneration of cartilage around arthritic joints:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin)
- Indomethacin (Indocin)
- Naproxen (Naprosyn)
These pain relievers have no effect on the regeneration of cartilage around arthritic joints:
- Piroxicam (Feldene)
- Tiaprofenic acid
And these pain relievers actually enhace the regeneration of cartilage around arthritic joints:
The pain relievers that have been in the news, such as celecoxib (Celebrex) and rofecoxib (Vioxx), do not cause stomach upset, but whether they cause joint damage over the long run is not known. For that reason, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the safest available pain reliever for OA. Even Tylenol, however, can cause constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, dependency, and fatigue.
So what can you do besides be very careful which pain relievers you take? You probably know about glucosamine and chondroitin, but relatively less mentioned are healing foods. Among the very best healing food for people who have osteoarthritis, at least if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, are soup stocks made from simmered meats. Simmering a whole chicken to make soup creates glycosaminoglycans that provide chondroitin sulfate, the same chondroitin sulfate in supplements. You do not necessarily have to stew the “whole” bird, as long as you do not start with boneless meat.