Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This is followed by chronic inflammation of the joint lining. Healthy cartilage is a cushion between the bones in a joint. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and limited movement of the affected joint.
Joints Affected by Osteoarthritis
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There is no treatment that stops cartilage loss or repairs damaged cartilage or bones of the joint. When cartilage wears away, bone on bone friction causes pain and inflammation. The goal of treatment is to reduce joint pain and inflammation, and to improve joint function.
Options may include:
can lessen the stress on joints affected by osteoarthritis. The more weight lost, the greater the benefit.
Strengthening the muscles supporting an arthritic joint (particularly the knee, lower back, and neck) may decrease pain and absorb energy around the joint. For example, if you have arthritis in the knee, exercise and
can also help improve knee function.
Swimming and water aerobics are good options. They do not put stress on the joint.
Another option is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With TENS, you are connected to a machine. The machine sends electrical signals through the skin to nerves. This type of therapy may decrease pain in some people.
If you have knee osteoarthritis, manual therapy, including
and manipulation, may be helpful.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Opiates and opiate-like medications
- Topical pain medications that are applied to the skin
- Viscosupplementation injection
- Corticosteroid injection
Applying heat with hot water bottles, warm soaks, paraffin, or heating pads helps joints and muscles move more easily. It can also lessen pain. Using ice packs after activity can also help.
are two commonly used supplements. But, research has shown that these are not beneficial for most people with osteoarthritis. Talk with your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements.
Shoes with shock-absorbing
soles may provide some relief while you are doing daily activities or exercising. Splints or braces help to properly align joints and distribute weight. Knee and wrist joints may benefit from elastic supports.
, and orthopedic shoes can help with advanced osteoarthritis in the lower body.
If you are having difficulty getting around due to arthritis pain, your doctor might recommend that you install handrails and grips throughout your home. These are useful in the bathroom and shower. You may need elevated seats, including
toilet seats, if you're having difficulty rising after sitting.
Surgery may be needed for joints with severe damage. It may be done to remove loose pieces of bone or cartilage from joints or reposition bones to redistribute stress on the joint. Some may need to have the joint replaced with articfical joint.