Orthopaedic medications are medications specifically used to treat conditions and disorders related to the musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. These medications are prescribed by healthcare professionals specialising in orthopaedics to help manage various orthopaedic issues and conditions such as fractures, arthritis, sports injuries, and other conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.
Orthopaedic medications aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and promote healing. They can be taken orally, applied topically (creams and ointments), or administered through injections depending on the medication and your specific needs.
How do orthopaedic medications work?
Orthopaedic medications work in different ways depending on the specific medication and the condition being treated.
Pain relief: orthopaedic medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. They do so by blocking certain enzymes involved in inflammation, and act on the nervous system to block pain signals to provide pain relief.
Inflammation reduction: some orthopaedic medications, particularly corticosteroids, are used to reduce inflammation in conditions such as tendonitis or arthritis. Corticosteroids work by suppressing the immune response and decreasing inflammation, which can help relieve pain and swelling in affected areas.
Muscle relaxation: muscle relaxants are prescribed to help relieve muscle spasms and tightness. These medications work by targeting the central nervous system to reduce muscle contractions and promote relaxation.
Disease modification: in cases of chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are used. DMARDs work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation associated with the condition. By controlling inflammation, these medications can help slow down the progression of the disease and preserve joint function.
Benefitsof hyaluronic acid injection
What conditions can hyaluronic acid injection treat?
Orthopaedic medications can be used to treat the following conditions:
Fractures: both open and closed fractures can be treated with orthopaedic medications to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Arthritis: orthopaedic medications can reduce inflammation and pain that is often associated with arthritis.
Tendonitis: tendonitis, for example, shoulder tendonitis, is an inflammation of tendons, and can be treated with orthopaedic medications to reduce inflammation and pain.
Osteoporosis: a bone disease characterised by reduced bone mass and density, osteoporosis can lead to reduced bone strength and increased risk of fractures. Orthopaedic medications can be used to reduce any pain associated with this disease.
Back pain: individuals with back pain can sometimes experience excruciating pain that interferes with their daily activities. Hence, orthopaedic medications can be used to provide some relief.
Muscle spasms: characterised by painful and uncontrollable tightening and relaxing of your muscle, muscle spasms can be treated with orthopaedic medications.
What results can I expect?
The results of orthopaedic medications vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated.
Some general outcomes you may experience include:
Pain relief: you can experience a reduction in pain intensity, allowing you to engage in daily activities with greater comfort and mobility.
Reduced inflammation: you may notice a decrease in swelling, redness, and stiffness in affected joints or muscles.
Improve functionality: you may experience an improved range of motion, increased ability to perform tasks, and better quality of life in terms of movement and physical capabilities.
Enhanced healing: orthopaedic medications can support the healing process and aid in tissue repair, reduced complications, and facilitate faster and more effective recovery.
Disease management: you may experience reduced disease activity, minimised joint damage, and improved long-term outcomes.
Results will vary from person to person, depending on the treatment area, severity of the issue, and your overall health. Your orthopaedist can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your individual needs and circumstances.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
The number of treatment sessions needed with orthopaedic medications varies based on your condition, severity, and individual response. Short-term use may last a few weeks to months for injuries or surgeries, aimed at managing pain and supporting healing.
Chronic conditions like arthritis may require long-term medication use, with varying duration. It is crucial to follow your orthopaedist’s instructions and continue treatment as prescribed even if symptoms improve. Orthopaedic medications are often part of a comprehensive treatment plan, including other therapies.
Your orthopaedist will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.