CPhT CONNECT™ Magazine - Jan/Feb 2021

Treatment Options It is important to note that when discussing and considering treatment options with your physician, make sure that the ben- efits of the prescribed drug therapies outweigh the risks that may be associated with them. In some cases, the use of pain medication may be necessary for a patient if non-medical treat- ments have not been successful. NSAIDs are readily available in over-the-counter forms; however, every patient should be screened for all potential risks whether the drug is OTC or pre- scription strength. Some patients can benefit from taking OTC medication to alleviate the pain associated with their arthritis symptoms. As mentioned earlier, OTC medication is readily available, affordable, and for some patients, effective in treating pain and inflammation. NSAIDs work by blocking the production of the chemical prostaglandins that cause inflammation. Some patients may find themselves at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes when using NSAIDs. In addition to heart attacks and stroke risks, some may experience an increased risk of gastro- intestinal bleeding, fluid retention, and impaired renal function. Short-term use of NSAIDs is not likely to cause complications in patients who do not have existing factors that would poten- tially put them at greater risks when taking NSAIDs. Patients 65 and older and patients who have preexisting cardiovascu- lar conditions should speak with their health care providers and determine whether the benefits of taking NSAIDs outweigh the risk associated with them. Discussing potential adverse reac- tions and complications resulting from prolonged use of NSAIDs can help patients avoid those complications and adverse reac - tions. A physician may recommend using topical NSAIDs as opposed to tablets for a person at high risk of adverse reactions.

It is also recommended that patients use only one phar- macy so that the pharmacist can monitor the patient’s profile for drug-disease interaction and drug- drug interactions. Physicians should also discuss nonpharmacological therapies that may help patients with arthritis. The goal is to help the patient maintain quality of life. Plus, it is important to ensure that the patient is getting enough rest. When joints are inflamed, the risk of further injuring them is increased. Exercise is also recommended. Pain and stiffness can lead to inactivity, which is danger- ous because inactivity can lead to a loss of muscle strength, decreased joint stability, and fatigue. Regular exercise has been shown to prevent and, in some cases, reverse these effects. It also preserves and restores joint motion and increases strength. In addition, physical and occupational therapy can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Nutrition and dietary therapy also help patients who suffer from arthritis. Weight loss is recommended for patients who are overweight and obese, as it reduces stress on the inflamed joints. Some patients’ damage from arthritis is so severe that it cannot be controlled by medication or nonpharmacologic methods, and surgery may be the only option to restore function to dam- aged joints. An individual who suffers from arthritis should work closely with their health care provider and openly dis - cuss the best treatment option for them. Arthritis in any form can range from mild to severe eventually leading to deformity and debilitating pain. The individual’s quality of life may be greatly reduced. Open, honest dialogue between the patient and their health care team can lead to the best treatment plan for the patient and lead to an improved quality of life.

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