Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis which affects older adults. It is one of the leading causes of physical disability among adults. According to WHO, around 10% to 15% of all adults aged over 60 suffer from some degree of OA with higher prevalence among women.
The prevalence of this disease is expected to rise with the increasing prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyle. Despite this, there is yet No Definite Cure for Arthritis. The current treatment strategies are primarily aimed at reducing the pain and improving joint function. Let us know more about it-
What is Osteoarthritis?
It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones within the joint starts to break down. This results in rubbing of bones against each other, which causes pain and inflammation.
Signs and symptoms of OA can include:
- Reduced movement.
What is the treatment of OA?
The principles of treatment are to relieve the pain and stiffness and maintain function, with current consensus guidelines recommending the use of a combination of medication, physical therapy and surgical intervention where necessary.
The treatment plan may include a variety of treatment options. Let’s take a look at them.
These drugs help in reducing the pain in the affected joint. Some examples are Tylenol, Ultracet, etc.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
These drugs help in reducing both pain and inflammation. NSAIDs available over-the-counter are Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen. Other types of NSAIDs are available only by prescription. They are also available in the form of gels or creams which can be applied on the joint.
Disease-modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
These drugs are usually used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They slow down the destruction of joint tissues by your immune system.
These drugs help in reducing the inflammation and suppressing the immune system. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or are injected by the doctor directly into the joint. They are often given along with other drugs like NSAIDs and DMARDs to relieve the symptoms.
Hyaluronic acid solution is injected by the doctor into the joint space. As Hyaluronic acid is similar to a natural joint fluid, it helps in reducing the pain and stiffness.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Application of hot and cold packs on the affected joint can help in reducing the pain and inflammation. Although it is a temporary fix.
This includes exercises which can strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint, reduce joint stiffness and improve the range of motion.
Supporting the affected joint with a brace or splint may provide extra support for it to function properly. However, these devices offer temporary relief and should not be used for longer time.
When the above mentioned conservative methods fail to give you relief, then the doctor may recommend surgery, like:
In some cases, joint surfaces are smoothed and realigned to reduce the pain. This procedure is usually performed by using an arthroscope through small incisions on the joint.
If the pain and disability become severe and unbearable, the doctor may suggest a joint replacement. This includes the removal of damaged joint and replacement with an artificial joint made of metal or ceramic. Joints most commonly replaced are hip and knee joints.
Contact The Pain Center to discuss treatment by filling out our contact form or calling (208) 342-9800!