Osteoarthritis treatment options

If you’ve ever stayed at grandma’s house for the summer, helped grandpa with chores around the house, or even just watched television, listened to the radio, read a magazine or surfed the internet over the past few decades, then you have likely heard about osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) is actually not just one complaint, but a group of diseases that leads to degradation of the joints. Sufferers of osteoarthritis will often complain about various ailments involving the joints, including pain, tenderness, stiffness, creaking and even locking. They may also experience inflammation or swelling. Whatever the signs and symptoms, osteoarthritis often leads to the loss of cartilage in the joints, leading to extreme pain because cartilage is what lubricates and cushions the joints and keeps the bones from rubbing together.

In the worst case scenario, cartilage may wear away so much that bones within joints become exposed. On the surface, this can lead to a person who experiences pain upon weight bearing (such as walking or trying to support his or herself on her hands), and pain when manipulating the joints. This can lead to loss of function, which itself leads to an osteoarthritis sufferer finding him or herself unable to live alone and needed assistance with care. And in fact, these worst case scenarios are extremely common – so common that osteoarthritis related disability is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Osteoarthritis is thought to affect as many as 27 million people in the United States alone, and account for 25% of visits to primary care physicians. Even scarier, it is predicted that 80% of the U.S. population will eventually suffer from osteoarthritis. So, if you weren’t scared or worried about osteoarthritis until now, you should read on about the possible outcomes and treatments associated with osteoarthritis.

Fortunately for sufferers and potential sufferers, there is quite a bit of osteoarthritis treatment out there. These treatments include exercise, medication, lifestyle change, and physical therapy. Read one for more on these treatments.

One of the most common suggestions to help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis is lifestyle change. Keeping weight at a healthy level, for example, can help alleviate pressure on the joints. Getting enough rest can also help, and regular exercise such as walking or swimming has been shown to be an effective osteoarthritis treatment. Some lifestyle change even includes introducing a walker or cane into the patient’s routine. This can help eliminate some of the stress on afflicted joints.

Physical therapy as an osteoarthritis treatment can come in many forms and from many healthcare professionals. Physical and occupation therapists, for example, can help teach osteoarthritis sufferers exercises that can manipulate their joints and help them alleviate pain or regain function. Chiropractors may also be called in to alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis. Therapists recommend regimens such as gait and balance training as osteoarthritis treatments. Bad balance and gait is very dangerous, because it can lead to a higher chance of slips and falls, especially in older people.

Another wonderful osteoarthritis treatment is exercise. A moderate exercise routine has been shown to alleviate pain and increase mobility in people suffering from the degenerative disease. If you do have osteoarthritis and want to begin exercising, be sure to put safety first. Contact your primary care physician or gerontologist and make sure he or she signs off on any exercise plan before you begin your routine. Performing the wrong exercises, or performing the right exercises in the wrong way, may actually do more harm than help.

If you have not yet been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, but are feeling the symptoms, contact your physician immediately. With treatment, osteoarthritis no longer has to be a debilitating disease.


Last updated on Mar 1st, 2010 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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