General: Musculoskeletal problems are generally managed with medications that reduce pain and inflammation. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damage.
Antidepressants: Some individuals with musculoskeletal problems may also suffer from depression. Commonly prescribed anti-depressants for arthritis patients include amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), and trazodone (Desyrel). These drugs may also help with nerve pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Side effects of antidepressant medications include drowsiness, fatigue (excessive tiredness), constipation, dry mouth, and blurred vision.
Lifestyle changes: Many lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, weight management, and consumption of a healthy diet may help reduce symptoms of musculoskeletal problems. A healthcare provider may recommend a physical therapist, nutritionist, or registered dietician to help determine the best treatment plan for the individual.
Cool compress or ice pack: Applying a cool compress or ice pack to the affected joint during a flare-up may help reduce swelling and pain.
Heat: Applying a hot pack to affected joints may help reduce pain, relax muscles, and increase blood flow to the joint. It may also be an effective treatment before exercise. Alternatively, individuals may take a hot shower or bath before or after exercise to help reduce pain.
Fusing bones: If there is serious joint damage, the bones of a joint, such as the ankle, may be surgically fused together in a procedure called arthrodesis. This surgery helps increase stability and reduces pain. However, the joint no longer has any flexibility and cannot bend or move.
Joint replacement surgery: In some cases, individuals with osteoarthritis suffer from permanent joint damage. In such instances, joint replacement surgery may be necessary. During the procedure, the damaged joint is surgically removed, and it is replaced with a plastic or metal device called a prosthesis. The most commonly replaced joints are the hip and knee, but other joints, including the elbow, shoulder, finger, or ankle joints can be replaced as well.
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