There is no cure for osteoarthritis but treatment can help to relieve pain and other symptoms, prevent or reduce disability, and help you live independent and active life. Treatment for osteoarthritis includes both medications and nondrug approaches such as life style changes, physiotherapy, exercises, complimentary therapy. Important aspects of treatment approach for osteoarthritis include:
Lifestyle changes: Osteoarthritis symptoms can improve with lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and weight loss.
Medicines for osteoarthritis: Your doctor may prescribe medicine (painkillers) to help control pain in osteoarthritis. Besides medications other therapies that may be recommended include devices or surgery.
Supportive treatments: Some of the non-drug approaches for osteoarthritis include physiotherapy, applying hot or cold packs, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Assistive devices: If the pain of osteoarthritis or mobility problems, make everyday tasks difficult, your health professional (physiotherapist or occupational therapist) may recommend use of assistive devices. Use of special footwear or insoles for your shoes can help to relieve pain of osteoarthritis of lower limbs, such as your hips, knees or feet. Similarly footwear with shock-absorbing soles can reduce pressure on the joints of your legs while you walk. Use of walking aid, such as a stick or cane may be recommended if osteoarthritis in your hip or knee affects your mobility. Your health professional can advise you regarding need and use of assistive devices.
Surgery: Surgery for osteoarthritis is rarely needed. Most patients withosteoarthritis can be managed with medications but patients with severe pain or joint deformity may need surgery. Some of the surgeries that are performed for osteoarthritis include joint replacement (replacing the joint with an artificial joint), arthroplasty, arthrodesis and osteotomy. A joint replacement surgery can improve the mobility of a patient. An orthopedic surgeon will advise regarding need for surgery after examining you. Surgery for osteoarthritis can help to significantly improve your symptoms, mobility and quality of life but it does not ensure complete resolution of symptoms. You may continue to experience pain and stiffness.
Complementary and alternative therapies: Owing to the limitations of prescription medication in the treatment of osteoarthritis many people with osteoarthritis try complementary and alternative therapies. Some of the most commonly used complementary therapies for osteoarthritis include acupuncture, aromatherapy and massage. Some evidence suggests that these therapies may help to relieve symptoms but a definite and significant benefit is not observed.
[Read: Osteoarthritis and Acupuncture]
Nutritional supplements: Several nutritional supplements are available for treatment of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate are the two of the most commonly used supplements for osteoarthritis. They may help to relieve symptoms and do not cause any significant side effects.
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