The goals of treatment are to relieve pain, maintain or improve joint mobility,
increase the strength of the joints, and minimize the disabling affects of the disease.
The specific treatment depends upon the affected joint's).
Treatment of Osteoarthritis patients is tailored to the needs of each individual.
Patients vary widely in the location of the joints involved, the rate of progression, the
severity of symptoms, the degree of disability, and responses to specific forms of
treatment. Most treatment programs include several forms of therapy.
Lifestyle changes recomended for Osteoarthritis Treatments
Exercises are important to maintain joint and overall mobility. Physical therapists and
occupational therapists can prescribe an appropriate home exercise treatment. Exercises
done in water are often effective for increasing mobility.
Heat and cold treatments, protection of the joints, the use of self-help devices and rest
are all recommended.
Good nutrition and careful weight control are important. Weight loss for overweight
individuals will decrease the mechanical strain placed on the joints of the lower
Medications use in Osteoarthritis Treatments
Patients with mild OA may be treated only with pain relievers such as acetaminophen
(Tylenol) or propoxyphene (Darvon). Most patients with OA, however, are given nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These include compounds such as ibuprofen (Motrin,
Advil), ketoprofen (Orudis), and flurbiprofen (Ansaid). The NSAIDs have the advantage of
relieving inflammation as well as pain. They also have potentially dangerous side effects,
including stomach ulcers, sensitivity to sun exposure, kidney disturbances, and
nervousness or depression.
Some OA patients are treated with corticosteroids injected directly into the joints to
reduce inflammation and slow the development of Heberden's nodes. Injections should not be
regarded as a first-choice treatment and should be given only two or three times a year.
Physical therapy used in Osteoarthritis Treatments
Patients with OA are encouraged to exercise as a way of keeping joint cartilage
lubricated. Exercises that increase balance, flexibility, and range of motion are
recommended for OA patients. These may include walking, swimming and other water
exercises, yoga and other stretching exercises, or isometric exercises.
Physical therapy may also include massage, moist hot packs, or soaking in a hot tub.
Surgery use to treat Osteoarthritis
Surgical treatment of osteoarthritis may include the replacement of a damaged joint
with an artificial part or appliance; surgical fusion of spinal bones; scraping or removal
of damaged bone from the joint; or the removal of a piece of bone in order to realign the
- arthroplasty (total or partial replacement of the deteriorated joint with an artificial
- arthroscopic surgery to trim torn and damaged cartilage and wash out the joint
- osteotomy (change in the alignment of a bone to relieve stress on the bone or joint)
- arthrodesis (surgical fusion of bones, usually in the spine)
New Osteoarthritis Treatments
Since 1997, several new methods of treatment for OA have been investigated. Although
they are still being developed and tested, they appear to hold promise. They include:
- Disease-modifying drugs. These compounds may be useful in assisting the body to form new
cartilage or improve its repair of existing cartilage.
- Hyaluronic acid. Injections of this substance may help to lubricate and protect
- Electromagnetic field therapy
- Gene therapy
- Cartilage transplantation. This technique is presently used in Sweden.