What are the treatment options for osteoarthritis?
Painful swelling of the joints due to wear and tear over many years is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis may develop in any joint that includes the fingers, hips, and knees. Usually, the joints feel painful during moderate usage for patients with arthritis. The cartilage (a rubbery tissue covering the ends of the bones) breaks down over time, leaving the bones without anything to cushion them. This causes them to rub against each other, resulting in pain and swelling. There are many treatment options available to curb the complications of arthritis.
Painkillers along with guided physical activity are usually considered the best treatment for arthritis in the early stages. However, if patients are unable to continue their daily activities, then the surgical option is recommended for relief.
Physical activity: Patients with arthritis have a hard time performing physical activities, but exercise is the best thing that can relieve arthritis pain and lessen joint damage. Exercise can also help to lose weight. That will put less stress on the joints. Exercises such as stretching, muscle strengthening, and swimming can help patients to keep fit. It also increases flexibility, range of motion, and lubrication in the joints. Exercises involving lifting weights can build muscle strength, which can help them to manage daily activities with moderate effort. Exercises also strengthen the heart and lungs and can reduce fatigue and increase patients’ stamina. Typical aerobic exercises such as walking, running, riding a bicycle, and swimming can cut down calories. Walking and water aerobics are considered the best exercises for patients with arthritis.
Corticosteroid injections: Medications may relieve pain in the joint. During this procedure, the doctor numbs the area around the joints, then places a needle into space within the joints, and injects medication. The number of cortisone injections may be limited to three or four each year because the medication can worsen joint damage over time.
Lubrication injections: Injections of hyaluronic acid may offer pain relief by providing some cushioning in your knee. Hyaluronic acid is similar to a component normally found in your joint fluid.
Natural remedies: Some herbs and supplements (capsaicin, flaxseed, ginger, ginkgo, and turmeric) may relieve arthritis. However, the most popular ones for pain relief are chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine. Both are made of compounds found in the cartilage. They may help your body regenerate the cartilage on the joints. Studies have shown that they may provide modest pain relief and could be tried if patients are unable to tolerate other pain medications. The American College of Rheumatology doesn’t currently recommend the use of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine. Other natural remedies include acupuncture, massage, heating pads, and ice packs. Reducing stress by maintaining a positive outlook may also help to reduce joint pain and swelling.
Physical therapy or rehabilitation: Physical therapists can work with patients on exercises to reduce pain and improve range of motion.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Treatment with TENS is usually arranged by a physiotherapist or doctor. It uses a machine that sends electrical impulses through sticky patches, called electrodes, attached to the skin. This may help ease the pain caused by osteoarthritis by numbing the nerve endings in the spinal cord that control pain.
Surgery: If patients have tried numerous remedies and got no relief or only a temporary reprieve, the doctor may suggest surgical options which include:
- Joint repair: In this procedure, joint surfaces are usually smoothed or realigned to reduce pain and improve function. These types of procedures can often be performed arthroscopically through small incisions over the joint.
- Joint replacement: This procedure removes the damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. The most commonly replaced joints are the hips and knees.
- Joint fusion: This procedure is more often used for smaller joints, such as those in the wrist, ankles, and fingers. It removes the ends of the two bones in the joints and then locks those ends together until they heal into one rigid unit.
Does osteoarthritis reduce life expectancy?
It is usually difficult to predict the course of arthritis, and life expectancy varies greatly on several factors. Arthritis can reduce a person’s life expectancy and quality of life, although many people live with their symptoms beyond the age of 80 or even 90 years. Factors affecting arthritis prognosis include age, disease progression, and lifestyle factors, such as smoking and weight. Due to advances in medications and other treatments, the prognosis for arthritis is better than ever before.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Osteoarthritis and Treatment Related Articles
12 Early Signs of Arthritis in HandsHand arthritis occurs when there is inflammation in one or more joints of the hand and wrist. A few of the common types of arthritis that affect the hands are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis (arthritis as a result of an injury), psoriatic arthritis and gout.
14 Early Signs of Arthritis in the LegsLeg arthritis affects the joints of the hips, knees, ankles or feet. The early signs and symptoms of arthritis in the legs include pain, swelling, stiffness, decreased range of motion, trouble walking, fever, bump-like swelling and other symptoms.
17 Early Signs of Arthritis in the BackArthritis in the back arises due to the inflammation of facet joints in the spine or sacroiliac joints between the spine and the pelvis. Some of the early signs of arthritis in the back include back pain, stiffness, swelling, bone grinding, loss of flexibility, fatigue, muscle spasms and other symptoms.
Early Signs of Arthritis in the FingersThe earliest signs of arthritis are pain, swelling and stiffness. If these symptoms are experienced in the fingers, it is likely because of rheumatoid arthritis. The signs and symptoms of arthritis in the fingers include popping sounds, joint deformity, warmth, mucus cysts and bone spurs.
Osteoarthritis (OA)Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
OA & Your JointsDealing with joint pain and arthritis? Learn why weight matters--and why NOT to stretch before exercise. See these solutions for joint pain and tips to protect your joints from damage.
OA of the Knee ExercisesLearn about osteoarthritis and exercises that relieve knee osteoarthritis pain, stiffness and strengthen the knee joint and surrounding muscles through this picture slideshow.
Daily Osteoarthritis CareOsteoarthritis joint pain can make it hard to carry out activities of daily living. Cartilage destruction can cause symptoms like pain, stiffness, and swelling. Treatment for the degenerative joint disease can make living with arthritis easier.
Osteoarthritis SlideshowOsteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease most often affecting major joints such as knees, hands, back, or hips. Osteoarthritis symptoms include pain, swelling and joint inflammation.
Osteoarthritis PictureOsteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. See a picture of Osteoarthritis and learn more about the health topic.
Osteoarthritis QuizHow does osteoarthritis differ from other types of arthritis? Learn about osteoarthritis with this quiz.
Osteoarthritis vs. Osteoporosis Differences and SimilaritiesArthritis is defined as painful inflammation and joint stiffness. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis and the most common cause of chronic joint pain, affecting over 25 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that involves the entire joint. Osteoporosis is not a type of arthritis. It is a disease that mainly is caused by a loss of bone tissue that is not limited to the joint areas. It is possible for one person to have both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
The differences in the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis include; pain, stiffness, and joint swelling, joint deformity, crackle sounds when the joint is moving, and walking with a limp. Osteoporosis is called the "silent disease" because it can progress for years without signs and symptoms before it is diagnosed, severe back pain, bone fractures, height loss, and difficulty or inability to walk. The differences in the causes of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are that osteoarthritis usually is caused by wear and tear on the joints. Osteoporosis usually is caused by one or more underlying problems, for example, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies. Treatment for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are not the same. There is no cure for osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid ArthritisOsteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are chronic joint disorders. RA is also an autoimmune disease. OA and RA symptoms and signs include joint pain, warmth, and tenderness. Over-the-counter pain relievers treat both diseases. There are several prescription medications that treat RA.
What Does Boron Do for the Body?Boron is a trace mineral found in many foods and in the environment. It is also available as a dietary supplement. Boron has an effect on brain function, hormone and enzyme function, bone formation, energy metabolism, immune function and other systems in the body.
What Is Bromelain Good For?Bromelain is a naturally occurring substance derived from the fruit, juice and stems of pineapples. Bromelain may be good for digestion, removing dead skin cells from burns and reducing inflammation, swelling, muscle soreness, pain and nasal congestion.
What Is the Function of Cartilage?Cartilage is a connective tissue type (one of 6 major types) that is an essential part of many of the structures in the body. Cartilage is stiffer and less flexible than muscle, but not as rigid or hard as bone.