TREATMENT FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS
While there is no cure, treating osteoarthritis and managing the symptoms is possible. Below are some steps for managing OA:
This is helpful if the person is obese. Excess weight causes stress on weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.
Exercise allows synovial fluid to warm and thin out. This makes it easier for cartilage in the joint to absorb the fluid. As the cartilage absorbs fluid, it swells and acts as a better cushion against friction. Exercise allows cartilage to do its job. Only through exercise can cartilage get rid of waste products and do the job it is supposed to do. More than one kind of exercise may be helpful. Flexibility exercises help keep the joints from becoming stiff. Strengthening exercises help maintain or increase strength. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, water aerobics and stationary biking, have many benefits. Aerobic exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, improve overall fitness, and reduce pain. It also promotes strength and flexibility.
Before starting any exercise program, it is important to consult a physician to ensure the best plan for the person with arthritis.
• Acetaminophen is often used for treating Osteoarthritis. Tylenol is a common form of acetaminophen. It is used for pain relief but does not reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen should be taken only as directed. Overdosing can result in liver damage.
• Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce stiffness, pain and swelling of the joints. Long-term use at high dosages, however, has been linked to possibly serious side effects. These side effects include internal bleeding, high blood pressure and heart and kidney problems. Vioxx, one of the most widely used NSAIDs, was freely withdrawn from the worldwide market by Merck & Co. Inc. in 2004. The decision to withdraw Vioxx was based upon findings from a drug trial that showed an increased risk of heart attack and stroke after 18 months. People taking NSAIDs should be encouraged to learn about the possible side effects and to report any that are present to their doctor.
• Stronger pain relief meds (e.g. long-acting opoids) are sometimes ordered for severe pain.
• A topical pain reliever works to reduce pain. The cream is rubbed into the skin over a joint. It is often used to help control pain in the knees and hands.
• Steroids are sometimes injected into acutely inflamed joints. The process should be done no more than four times in a one-year period.
Glucosamine and chrondoitin
This is a nutritional supplement that is widely used for treating osteoarthritis. Further research is needed to find out how well the product works.
Heat or cold therapy
Some people find that applying heat (e.g. hot shower) helps reduce joint pain. Cold treatments to a joint may help decrease the swelling and pain.
This is sometimes needed to restore joint motion when the disease has extremely limited joint function. Surgery may involve cleaning or removing damaged tissue or realigning or fusing joints. Fusing involves joining two bones together. Replacement surgery involves removal of part or all of the damaged bone and replacing it with artificial products. Total hip replacement (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR) are two common types of surgery done to restore joint function. If you are caring for a loved one following surgery, such as a THR or TKR, be sure to follow his or her post-op treatment plan.
Arthritis: A Self Help Guide
The goal of this book is to help you to better understand the all-too-common disease known as “arthritis”.
Despite what many people believe, the symptoms are not always the same. The disease pattern, the severity of pain and disability, and the site of the symptoms can differ for different forms of arthritis.
As a caregiver, you may know that arthritis causes pain in the joints. But what else do you know about the disease?