Osteoarthritis treatments range from making simple changes to your lifestyle to joint replacement surgery. Figuring out which osteoarthritis treatments are right for you will depend on your health, your age and the severity of your condition.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for osteoarthritis. The good news, however, is that if you identify osteoarthritis early, you can slow its progression. Many people can relieve their pain and stay active.
The first step to treating osteoarthritis comes with a proper diagnosis. An orthopaedic specialist can determine if you have the disease with a physical examination and X-rays. If you have creaking or grinding noises – called crepitus – you may have bone-on-bone friction. X-rays reveal how deteriorated your joints may be. They can also show if there’s too much fluid in your joint, if you have bone spurs or if there’s narrowing in the joint space.
Nonsurgical osteoarthritis treatments
Simply making lifestyle modifications can help alleviate osteoarthritis pain. If you run, play competitive sports or do a lot of high-impact aerobics, try switching to low-impact activities. If you’re overweight, losing pounds will benefit your weight-bearing joints. These include the knee, hip, spine and ankle.
Your orthopaedic specialist may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids, injected into the joint, may temporarily reduce swelling and pain.
Physical therapy can improve your range of motion, flexibility and reduce pain. During physical therapy sessions, you learn how to strengthen your muscles, bones and cartilage tissues by performing specific exercises under supervision.
Surgical osteoarthritis treatments
Surgery may be necessary if non-surgical approaches are unable to eliminate pain. Whether you should have surgery is something your orthopaedic specialist can discuss with you. Some things to take into consideration are your age, how active you are and your joint’s condition. Here are four types of surgical procedures for osteoarthritis:
During arthroscopy, an orthopaedic surgeon uses a flexible, fiberoptic instrument – arthroscope – to make tiny incisions to remove bone spurs, cysts, damaged lining, or loose fragments in the joint.
The long bones of the arm or leg are realigned to take pressure off the joint.
In this procedure, an orthopaedic surgeon eliminates the joint by fusing the ends of bone. Pins, plates, screws, or rods are used to hold bones in place during the healing process.
An orthopaedic surgeon removes parts of the bones and creates an artificial joint with metal or plastic components. This can be total joint replacement or arthroplasty.
+ Learn about the experienced orthopeadic and spine specialists at Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists.