With no known cure, osteoarthritis treatment is necessary to reduce pain and promote joint movement for performing everyday activities easily. Living with under performing joints can be demanding, especially in doing activities which involve the more frequently used body parts as knees, wrists and shoulders.
Although you may not experience exactly the same mobility as that before having osteoarthritis, implementing one or a combination of treatment options can certainly give more comfort to living and doing the chores.
Non-drug treatment options for osteoarthritis
In the effort to treat osteoarthritis, the non-drug methods may be opted first as these keep the side effect(s) of medication at bay.
Painful or inflamed joints should be provided rest and refrained from performing repetitive activities. Resting period of 12 to 24 hours may provide relief to pain and ease your discomfort considerably.
Excess weight or obesity increases stress on the joints, like the knees and the hips. Consider losing the extra weight to relieve your joints; even a small amount of weight loss can be worthy of reducing substantial pain and discomfort.
Changes in diet and exercising are encouraging options when you want to lose weight. Exercise can improve stamina and provide greater mobility to joints. Opt for gentle exercises and stop exercising if you experience pain.
Another non-medicinal option of dealing with osteoarthritis is using an assistive device. Your chores can be comforting by implementing an assistive device like cane, shoe inserts, grabbing tools, etc. These aids mainly focus on distributing weight and relieving pressure on the joints.
Assistive devices can be used along with other treatment procedures for enhanced benefits. Pain creams can also be used to relieve joints which are close to the skin like fingers and knees.
Heat And Cold
In relieving pain, heat and cold can serve well. Heat can reduce stiffness while cold can provide comfort from muscle spasms. You may use a heating pad or a cold pack, depending on your comfort and suitability. Ensure not to extend the usage beyond 30 minutes.
Medications Used To Treat Osteo Arthritis
The following medications can be used to treat osteo arthritis. Consult your doctor for their best suitability.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug
A group of medications, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can be implemented for treating osteo arthritis. Ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, etc. are common pain relievers easily available in the market. For many other such drugs, a prescription may be obligatory. Since these medicines act upon both pain and inflammation, lower-dose (as in case of over-the-counter ones) can ease off pain but not inflammation.
These drugs also pose side effects including stomach bleeding, increased risk for heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Go through the prescribing information and consult your doctor to reduce the likelihood of adverse side effects by consuming the lowest possible dose and for the minimum possible time period. If you want to use a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, you may need a careful association with your doctor for watching its potential harmful side effects.
Acetaminophen, a popular drug in the group, can be used to relieve pain although it doesn’t decrease inflammation. Mild to moderate pain can be treated with acetaminophen. Adhere to the recommended dosage as the drug can cause liver damage when taken in excess.
It may not be suited to people already having concerning liver or kidney issues. Besides oral pain relievers, creams and gels can also be used on the affected joints. Topical pain relievers can be used for treating the condition.
Antidepressants can also help treat chronic pain owing to osteo arthritis. FDA approved antidepressant duloxetine can be used for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Tricyslics, another group of antidepressants, is not FDA-approved but may help manage chronic pain.
The functioning of antidepressants in curbing pain is related to their effects on brain chemicals. Be aware of the side effects which include drowsiness, blurred vision, dry mouth and (though rarely) suicidal thoughts.
Narcotics is another prescription medication which can provide relief from severe osteoarthritis pain. However, the strong medications pose a risk of dependence. Narcotic can cause nausea, sleepiness and constipation. It is recommended to be under careful medical attention when you opt for narcotics.
Therapy and Surgery Options
Hyaluronic Acid Therapy
There is a natural lubricant in the joints which serves as the shock absorber (hyaluronic acid). Osteo arthritis means less of this acid. Hence, the acid is injected to ease the condition and reduce pain in the knees, hips and shoulders. Movement becomes easy through hyaluronic acid therapy. Side effect can come as swelling or pain on the injected part.
A physical therapist can also help in framing a customized exercise regimen that aims to strengthen the muscles around joint, increase joint motion and reduce pain.
Corticosteroid medications can be used in inject able forms to relieve joint paint. Since this medication puts your joint to risk of damage, there is a limit up to which you can take cortisone shots.
Surgery can serve as the last treatment option for osteo arthritis. There are several surgical procedures which can be implemented for treating the condition. Arthroscopy is the least invasive surgical technique which may provide temporary relief from arthritis pain.
A minute incision is made in the affected area/joint which serves as the primary tool for viewing damage to the area/joint, eliminating damaged tissues and smoothing rough surfaces. Another surgical procedure, called osteotomy, can be used to realign the leg. Done on the knee, osteotomy can help in reducing knee pain.
Joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty) is done to remove damaged joint surfaces and replace them with prostheses (plastic and metal devices). Joint replacement is mostly done for the hip and knee joints. In another technique called joint fusion, the joint is completely removed and replaced with screws, plates or pins.
This surgical procedure, however, removes the flexibility of the joints. Other side effects of surgical treatment include risk of infection and the need for repetitive surgeries (like for replacing the artificial parts).
More Treatment Options For Treating Osteo Arthritis
Maintain close and regular association with your doctor to ensure that a treatment procedure delivers optimal outcome. You may consider complementing a treatment procedure with another one if you find the combination advantageous. Arthritis patients may also benefit from taking a chronic pain class.
These can be opportunities for learning coping skills which help you manage arthritis better. Alternative treatment like acupuncture, yoga, nutritional supplementation, etc. can also be implemented for getting relief from osteo arthritis.
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