Arthritis Center

Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis treatment
Arthritis can damage your joints, internal organs, and skin. Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people diagnosed with arthritis decrease pain, improve function and stay productive. The goals of any treatment plan for arthritis include:

  • Control pain and other symptoms
  • Improve the ability to function in daily activities
  • Slow the disease's progress

Most treatment plans will include a combination of medications, physical and/or occupational therapy and self-management techniques.  While most people with osteoarthritis won't need surgery, it might be an option for you if you experience severe joint damage, extreme pain or very limited motion as a result of arthritis.  Alternative therapies are also gaining popularity in recent years. We'll review each treatment option in turn.

Most people diagnosed with arthritis use drugs to ease the symptoms of the disease. Most drugs focus mainly on relieving pain, but some are targeted at other symptoms and slowing disease progression. Work with your doctor to find the combination of medications that works best for you. Here are some medications your doctor might consider:

  • Analgesics
  • Biologic response modifiers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cox-2 Drugs
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Hyaluronic acid substitutes
  • Injectable glucocorticoids
  • Nonsteroidal anit-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Topical Analgesics
  • Viscosupplements

Physical and occupational therapy
Physical therapy (PT) works to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and joint mobility. Occupational therapy focuses on helping you manage your daily activities. PT or OT (OT) specialists will help you develop a specific exercise program and can offer you other pain management techniques.

Self-management techniques
First, make an effort to learn techniques to manage arthritis. There are things you can do at home to keep the damage to your joints and cartilage from getting worse. They might also make you feel better.  Self-management education programs can teach you how to manage arthritis and lessen its effects.

Exercise -  Moving all of your joints will help ease arthritic symptoms and keeping active may help reduce the stiffness in your joints. Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 3 days a week. Or get activity in 10-minute intervals. Take a warm shower in the morning. Going for a walk every day will help arthritis pain, too.

Joint protection - Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People with arthritis should develop a comfortable balance between rest and activity. You must pay attention to signals from your body. When experiencing pain or fatigue, it is important to take a break and rest. Too much rest, however, may cause muscles to become weak and joints to become stiff. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing arthritis. 

Weight control and diet- The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Too much weight can make your knees and hips hurt.  Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. Along with exercise, a well-balanced diet helps people manage their body weight and stay healthy. Diet is especially important for people who have gout.

The benefits of surgery include improved movement, pain relief and improve joint alignment.  Of course, there are always risks to surgery, so consult with your doctor thoroughly before considering this option.  There are several different types of joint surgery. Listed below are the most common forms of surgery for arthritis:

  • Arthroscopic Surgery
  • Bone fusion
  • Joint Replacement Surgery or Arthroplasty
  • Osteotomy

Alternative treatments
Arthritis may respond to some alternative or complementary therapies. Following are some that are commonly used to treat arthritis.

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Mobilization Therapy
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • TENS unit
  • Vitamins
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