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Osteoarthritis Treatments

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 extremities.

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 bone.

  • arthroplasty (total or partial replacement of the deteriorated joint with an artificial joint
  • 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 cartilage.
  • Electromagnetic field therapy
  • Gene therapy
  • Cartilage transplantation. This technique is presently used in Sweden.






This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.

Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis. is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

Where we get our information.

Most of the information in the site is compiled by editors from information provided by the National Institutes of Health. We are in the process of updating our pages. In the past we have not made reference to the source for information provide by our editors. In the next few weeks we hope to have all our pages marked as to the source.

We have included information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Pages that uses information from this source are so acknowledged.

We have contributing authors that send information. Where information is provided by an outside author it is acknowledged by a byline under the title.

Updates of Pages.

Not all of our pages have a date as to the last update. We are in the processes of reviewing all our pages and as we do we include a reference as to when the page was updated. This web site was first published in January of 2003. All pages in the site were created at sometime during or after that time.