What are the Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is known as one of the most prevalent forms of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide.

The condition occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones wears out.

Osteoarthritis often affects the joints situated in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

However, the conditionalso known as degenerative joint disease can also damage other joints found in the body.

Common Symptoms

While symptoms can be managed effectively, the underlying damage can no longer be reversed.

In majority of the cases, the symptoms develop gradually and will worsen over time.

Some of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Grating sensation – patients with osteoarthritis may hear or feel a grating sensation especially when using the joints.
  • Bone spurs – extra bits of bones (sometimes resembling lumps) may sometimes form around the affected joint.
  • Stiffness – joint stiffness is more noticeable early in the morning or during periods of inactivity.
  • Tenderness – when light pressure is applied, the affected joint may feel tender.
  • Pain – pain may be felt in the joints affected during or after movements.
  • Flexibility loss – patients with osteoarthritis may no longer be able to move the joints affected through its full motion range.

Treatment Options

Although the condition’s underlying process is no longer reversible, symptoms can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes, physical and other therapies, medications, and surgery.

Some of the treatment options for osteoarthritis include:

Medications

Pain brought about by the condition can be minimized using the following:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – over-the-counter or OTC NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are taken per the recommended doses to alleviate pain caused by osteoarthritis.
  • Acetaminophen – considered effective for mild to moderate pain. However, acetaminophens may cause liver damage when more than the recommended dosage is taken.
  • Duloxetine – while generally used as an antidepressant, this medication is also sometimes used when treating chronic pain including those secondary to osteoarthritis.

Therapy

  • Physical therapy – physical therapists can create customized exercise programs that will help strengthen the muscles around the joint, improve the motion range, and minimize the pain.
  • Tai chi and yoga – these movement therapies involve exercises and gentle stretches combined with deep breathing. While often used to combat stress, some research show that it can also help enhance movement and reduce osteoarthritis pain.
  • Occupational therapy –occupational therapies can teach patients alternative ways to carry out routine tasks without putting strain and stress to the joint affected.

Surgery and Other Procedures

If osteoarthritis will not respond to noninvasive and conventional treatment interventions, the following options might be recommended:

  • Joint replacement – in joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), the damaged joint surfaces will be removed. It will be replaced with metal and plastic parts.
  • Bone realigning – osteotomy might be suggested if one side of the knee is damaged by osteoarthritis.
  • Cortisone injections – corticosteroid injections have been known effective in relieving joint pain.
  • Lubrication injections – a hyaluronic acid injection might be suggested to help relieve the pain and provide some cushioning.

Alternative Medicines

A few alternative medications have been known to help manage osteoarthritis.

Some of the promising alternative options include:

  • Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables – this mixture of avocado and soybean oils has been used in Europe to help manage knee and hip osteoarthritis. Aside from working as an anti-inflammatory, some studies show it has helped slow down joint damage.
  • Acupuncture –a few studies indicate that acupuncture has been effective in minimizing pain in individuals with knee osteoarthritis. It has also been known to help improve function.

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