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Osteoarthritis Treatment plan?

What kind of osteoarthritis treatment options are available to reduce your joint pain? Millions who suffer from arthritis symptoms are looking for recommendations to help reduce pain and restore function. What are the best treatment options? Can you avoid surgery?

Reduce Inflammation

Typical osteoarthritis treatment centers on reducing inflammation. Of course, the use of anti-inflammatory medication is the most common treatment recommendation (consult your doctor regarding medications). Medications can include both over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Aleve or Advil as well as prescription medications. NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are used to decrease joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. One potential complication with chronic use of NSAIDS is stomach upset.

Of the prescription NSAIDS available, the most common medications for arthritis pain is Celebrex because it has less of a tendency to cause stomach upset. Because arthritis is a long term problem, the potential complications of long term use of medication must be discussed with your doctor.

If oral medications are not effective, steroid injections are generally the next step. Cortisone helps to reduce inflammation and can be used with either small joints such as the fingers or thumbs or larger joints such as the knee. Generally no more than three injections are given within a year’s time. Overuse of cortisone injections can have a negative effect on joint inflammation.

Another means of assisting with joint pain and inflammation is the use of hyaluronan injections. Brand names of this type of injection include Synvisc, Orthocisc, Euflexxa and Supartz. Hyaluronan is a normal joint substance and functions to help improve joint lubrication. Generally the injections are given in a series of three, one week apart. These injections are generally used for knee osteoarthritis and can help to delay knee replacement surgery. The use of ice therapy is also greatly beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation. Icing painful joints for 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times a day, can help minimize painful joint inflammation.

As many cannot tolerate some forms of arthritis medications, turning to arthritis supplements has become more popular. The use of products such as glucosamine can for some be helpful in restoring joint cartilage, thus assisting in reducing joint pain.

Protect Joints

Central to help osteoarthritis treatment is reducing any activity that aggravates joint pain. Unfortunately this can mean temporarily avoiding activities you enjoy.

For significant symptoms, the use of assistive devices can be helpful in reducing joint stress. If walking is painful, the use of a cane or walker can be helpful to reduce joint stress. If hand joint pain is the issue, the use of devices such as jar openers can help to reduce hand joint stress.


Exercise plays an important role in helping to maintain range of motion and function of arthritic joints. For weight bearing joints such as hips and knees, the use of a stationary bicycle can help with joint range of motion. In addition, the repetitive motion from the bike helps to stimulate the production of synovial fluid, the natural lubricant of joints.

Another potential exercise choice for osteoarthritis is water exercise. While in the water, joint stress is minimized, generally allowing for increased exercise tolerance. In addition, the warmth of the water can be soothing to inflamed joints.

couple on beach

Any osteoarthritis treatment program must include strengthening exercises. Muscle strength is greatly important in reducing osteoarthritis symptoms. Our muscles act like shock absorbers. When we lack muscle strength, stress is transferred to our joints, adding to joint inflammation. Strengthening exercises help to build muscle strength, allowing the muscles to help protect joints by absorbing force.

Unfortunately, strengthening exercises are the most underutilized form of exercise in those suffering from osteoarthritis. Seek guidance from a physical therapist to help you establish a safe strengthening program to help you minimize your osteoarthritis symptoms.

Physcial Therapy

Formal physical therapy can be very effective in helping to reduce the pain, joint stiffness, and muscle weakness associated with osteoarthritis. The use of modalities such as ultrasound can help with tissue mobility and healing. Electric stimulation can assist in reducing both pain and inflammation. Manual joint mobilizations can help to restore normal joint range of motion and joint mechanics. And, a physical therapist can help establish an appropriate exercise program.


In significant cases, when typical conservative treatment including medication, injections, and physical therapy has failed, surgery is recommended. Although arthroscopic surgery can be recommended to “clean out” a joint, research has indicated that these procedures generally provide only temporary relief. More often, when significant arthritis is present and conservative treatment has failed; joint replacement surgery will have the best outcome.

Take control of your pain by following these osteoarthritis treatment recommendations. As always, seek advise from qualified medical professionals to help you make the best choices for your joint condition.

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