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Medications and injections for hip arthritis

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Ask your health care provider about medicines that may help relieve your pain.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with your arthritis symptoms. Over-the-counter (OTC) means you can buy without a prescription.

Most doctors recommend acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) first, because it has fewer side effects than other drugs. DO NOT take more than 3 grams (3,000 mg) of acetaminophen on any one day. Large amounts can harm your liver. Remember that 3 grams is about the same as 6 extra-strength pills or 10 regular pills.

If your pain continues, your doctor may suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You can buy some NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, without a prescription.

Taking acetaminophen or another pain pill before exercising is OK. But DO NOT overdo the exercise because you have taken the medicine.

If you are taking pain relievers on most days, tell your doctor. You may need to be watched for side effects.

Both NSAIDs and acetaminophen in high doses, or taken for a long time, can cause serious side effects.

Capsaicin is an ingredient in hot peppers that makes them spicy. It is used in skin creams to help relieve pain. You may feel a warm, stinging sensation when you first apply the cream. This sensation goes away after a few days of use. Pain relief usually begins within 1 to 2 weeks.

You can also buy OTC or prescription NSAIDs that come in the form of a skin cream.

Prescription drugs for hip arthritis

Your provider can prescribe higher doses of NSAIDs.

Corticosteroids injected right into the joint can also be used to help with swelling and pain. However, relief only lasts for a short time. More than 2 or 3 injections a year may be harmful. These injections can be performed at your provider's office or with the guidance of ultrasound or x-rays.

When the pain seems to go away after these injections, it may be tempting to go back to activities that may have caused your pain. When you receive these injections, ask your doctor or physical therapist to give you exercises and stretches that will decrease the chance of your pain returning.

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Review Date: 12/31/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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