Osteoarthritis Treatment

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, chances are you are not alone. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of this disease. The pain and inflammation associated with this disease is unmistakable.

Even if you have not received an official diagnosis, you will probably be able to recognize the often painful and debilitating symptoms of this disease. Here are some of the treatment options you have as an osteoarthritis patient.

Most osteoarthritis treatment focuses on reducing inflammation, pain, and stiffness in patients. Unfortunately, most osteoarthritis treatments do not go far enough in addressing the underlying causes for the disease. Conventional treatment options may include drug therapy, surgical intervention, lifestyle management, and physical and occupational therapy.

NSAIDs

Most drug therapy involves the use of NSAID class drugs. These are widely used drugs that are non-steroidal and that help control inflammation. Although NSAID drugs can be quite effective at managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, they have also been linked to side effects, including kidney problems and gastrointestinal ulcers.

Another class of drugs prescribed to osteoarthritis patients is corticosteroids. These have also been proven effective at controlling the main symptoms of osteoarthritis. However, the steroid element of these drugs may not be appropriate for all users, and long-term use of corticosteroid drugs have also been linked to side effects.

Surgery

Another treatment option for osteoarthritis is surgical intervention. Surgery is often necessary to repair damaged joints. Sometimes, as in hip replacement surgery, this can be a patient’s greatest hope for improving their quality of life.

Lifestyle management is another important part of treatment for many osteoarthritis patients. Lifestyle management involves a great range of things, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-rounded nutrient rich diet, and getting enough physical activity to keep joints and muscles healthy and strong.

Weight management is particularly important because obesity can greatly exacerbate the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis. Patients may have to make major dietary changes in order to ensure they are eating the right foods to keep their joints and muscles healthy.

Exercise

Regular physical exercise is paramount for osteoarthritis patients. Getting exercise can greatly reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis, including loss of flexibility and mobility. Patients should avoid high impact activities such as running and tennis, as these may place too much stress on already aggravated joints.

Low impact yet effective physical activities such as walking, yoga, and swimming are recommended. Water exercises are particularly helpful for developing stronger joints and muscles, and for retaining range of motion.

Physical Therapy

Physical and occupational therapy are also important parts of treating osteoarthritis. Physical therapy can help patients improve their flexibility and ability to stay mobile. Physical therapists can show osteoarthritis patients how to move their bodies in ways that help them slow the progress of the disease.

Patients can also learn special exercises targeted toward their body. Occupational therapy can help patients learn to accomplish everyday tasks and chores in ways that work with, and not against their bodies. Both therapies can play an important role in helping patients stay active and healthy.

Image: Medical Art Service, I. Christensen, Wellcome Images