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Answers tagged osteoarthritis: Page 1 of 1
Q:

Karen from Calgary asks: Is it possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can happen in the same person.  Unfortunately, if you have one, it still is possible to have the other as well.  It is important for you and your physician to be able to differentiate which joints are affected by which condition.  The best way to do this is to describe to your physician which joints are involved and how they feel, while your physician will complete an appropriate physical exam.  Further investigations such as blood tests or imaging can be helpful, they are often far from definitive in making a diagnosis on their own.

Making the right diagnosis ensures the right management choices are being made, as treatment for OA and RA are different.  To learn more about OA and RA and treatment options, please click on the highlighted links above.

Q:

Valerie in Edmonton asks: My doctor prescribed diclofenac and I have been taking it for 3 weeks. It sometimes gives me indigestion.  Is it alright to continue taking it?  I have had a past history of stomach problems and recently started pantoprazole once a day.

Diclofenac is an example of an NSAID (anti-inflammatory).  Similar medications include naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or celecoxib (Celebrex).  There are many potential side effects of NSAIDs, including irritation/inflammation to the stomach lining.   Ultimately, this can lead to a stomach ulcer in some individuals.  Medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), like pantoprazole, can help reduce the risk of this happening.  However, one should consider stopping the NSAID if the stomach discomfort continues despite being on a PPI.  Everyone’s individual risk from NSAIDs is different and should be strongly considered when starting a NSAID.  A conversation with your doctor to balance the benefits and risks is always a good idea.

Q:

Faith from Calgary asks: Can osteoarthritis in the back hurt?  Do rheumatologists treat osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, regardless of its location, certainly can cause pain.  There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatment options do exist which revolve around pain control and improved function.  For osteoarthritis of the back, we always need to be careful to ensure it is truly degenerative arthritis causing the pain, as x-rays of the back which show osteoarthritis do not necessarily mean that’s the cause of back pain.  One of the best treatment options for back pain is physiotherapy, with an emphasis on exercises related to strengthening, stretching, range of motion and core abdominal muscles.  While those with back pain need to do these exercises regularly to have benefit, they can improve pain significantly, and can all be done from home without needing regular physiotherapy appointments.

Rheumatologists do see patients at times with osteoarthritis, often for one appointment for a full assessment and provide advice to the patient and the referring physician.

Q:

Donna from Calgary asks: I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and experience a lot of pain in my shoulders , lower back , knees and hands.  My question is what medications can I take that won’t harm my kidney? I’ve had a lot of cortisone shots but was told I may not be able to have that much longer. I just not sure what to do at this time.

The focus for management of osteoarthritis is around improving function and reducing pain.  Of course, we want to reduce pain in the safest way possible, and the safest way is different for different people.  For most people, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is one of the safest pain relievers.  While most individuals will use acetaminophen when the pain is worst, for those with chronic pain, acetaminophen is more effective when used on a regular basis to prevent pain flares, never using more than recommended on the bottle.  Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) arguably may be more effective, but do have other side effect concerns, and should be avoided for those with kidney problems.  Topical anti-inflammatories are available which are likely safe even for those with kidney problems.  Cortisone injections are a safe option as well and certainly there is no limit how long you can have cortisone injections, as long as they are effective.

Finally, often forgotten but perhaps most important is the role for physical and occupational therapy.  Maintaining range of motion and muscle strength is an important part of management of osteoarthritis, and by its very nature is safe.

Q:

Patti from Sherwood Park asks: I have osteoarthritis of my thumb.  I have tried NSAIDs and glucosamine, and am thinking about trying Sierra Sil.  Any suggestions?

Osteoarthritis to the base of the thumb is a common spot to have osteoarthritis.  Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and improving function.  Because of this, treatment options that works well for one person may not be as effective for the someone else.  We cover many treatment options on our page for osteoarthritis, but one could consider acetaminophen, NSAIDs, a splint, physiotherapy, topical anti-inflammatories, and/or a cortisone injection, amongst other options.  In terms of natural products, please visit our pages on glucosamine, Sierra Sil, and other available natural health products to review them for yourself.



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