• Consumer Health: Understanding the risks with arthritis pain medications

several prescription medicine pill bottles with a person's hand taking off one of the lids

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about the risks associated with arthritis pain medications.

Arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide. Arthritis pain can interfere with your daily activities and enjoyment of life.

The two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — damage joints in different ways. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.

The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion.

Mild to moderate arthritis pain may be relieved with a combination of self-care measures and lifestyle changes. If you rely on over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage your arthritis pain, it's important to know the potential side effects, which include stomach bleeding; liver and kidney damage; and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Learn more about the risks with arthritis pain medications from Dr. April Chang-Miller, a Mayo Clinic rheumatologist.

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