Osteoarthritis affects millions of individuals all over the globe. Once an individual has been diagnosed with this condition, there are various treatment options available to reduce the pain and rigidity as well as slow down the progression of the disease.
Treatment options for osteoarthritis
There are 3 main treatment options used to manage osteoarthritis. Depending on the case of an individual, one might be suitable.
There are various medications that reduce pain, control the swelling or minimize the inflammation in the affected joints. The doctor might prescribe one medication or a combination whether over-the-counter or prescribed to properly managed the symptoms.
- Acetaminophen – this is the initial line of defense in alleviating the pain from osteoarthritis. Just remember that it is not effective for inflammation.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – aspirin and ibuprofen are widely used in managing arthritis. They are also suitable for alleviating both the pain and inflammation due to osteoarthritis and readily available in both over-the-counter and prescription variants.
Viscosupplements or hyaluronic acid injections
The synovial fluid has a tendency to thin out and become watery as one starts to age as well as those who have osteoarthritis. Once it is thin and watery, it loses its lubricating capability.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring compound in synovial fluid that makes it denser and more protective. With this in mind, hyaluronic acid injections can thicken the synovial fluid, thus reducing the pain and improves mobility.
Surgery is the last option in most cases, but oftentimes osteoarthritis progresses to a point in which the pain could not be alleviated by other measures. There are various procedures to choose from with varying recovery periods that can effectively reduce joint pain and restore function.
- Arthroscopy – this is a slightly invasive procedure where a slim, lighted scope is introduced into a small-sized slit in the knee. This device allows the surgeon to check the interior of the joint for damage. Other incisions are made where one is to fill the joint with fluid while another is used to repair the damaged tissue or get rid of damaged bone or cartilage that might be causing the pain and inflammation within the joint.
- Osteotomy – this procedure involves reshaping and realignment of the bones in arthritic joints so that they move against one another with minimal friction and pressure.
- Joint replacement – this is used for the advanced cases of osteoarthritis affecting the hip and knee. The damaged or diseased areas of the joint are removed surgically and replaced with artificial pieces. The newly replaced joint can last for 15-20 years.
- Arthrodesis – this is an option if replacement of the joint fails or not possible and the condition is incapacitating.