As a degenerative joint disease (DJD), Osteoarthritis can bring a major change to a patient’s quality of life. He/she might not be able to do daily activities normally due to the gradual loss of joint flexibility, pain that usually remains even when the joint is not in the move and weather-induced joint discomfort. Though there is no cure for this kind of disease, some treatments can be applied to prevent further damage or negative effects and to improve the quality of life.Treatments for osteoarthritis are aimed to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function. Self management is important to help the patients live better with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis patients should avoid doing excessive activities that may cause joint pain. It doesn’t mean that the patients are forbidden to do physical activities, but it is better to perform it at certain levels that do not cause further damage on the joints. In fact, there are two effective non-drug treatments for osteoarthritis: physical therapy and weight loss.
Physical therapy or exercise program on a regular basis helps strengthen muscles and bones, increase flexibility and stamina, and improve the general sense of well-being. Usually, exercises with minimal impact to the joints are suggested such as: swimming, walking, and stationary cycling. Stiffness on the joints may come after periods of inactivity. So, it is important to remain physically active, despite any initial discomfort you might feel, so that the joints stay lubricated. Overweight patients need a weight reduction program to ease the pressure on joints, and good posture to strengthen spine muscles. To determine which kind of physical therapy or healthy diet suitable for osteoarthritis treatments, patients should consult with health care professionals.
Medication is necessary to ease pain and inflammation on joints. In this case, doctors usually prescribe aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Patients are also allowed to use hot or cold compresses or topical preparations to relieve inflammation and pain. When inflammation is severe, corticosteroids may be injected into the joint to reduce inflammation. In some cases, patients also need mechanical aids, such as a walker or cane, to reduce stress on the joints and support their mobility. Doctors may perform joint replacement surgery when deterioration is extensive and unresponsive to the conservative treatments. However, any side effects that may appear during the medication or other treatments must be discussed with the doctor to avoid complications.