Osteoarthritis is a chronic (long-term) disease. There is no cure, but treatments are available to manage symptoms. Long-term management of the disease will include several factors:
- Managing symptoms, such as pain, stiffness and swelling
- Improving joint mobility and flexibility
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting enough of exercise
- Physical Activity
One of the most beneficial ways to manage Osteoarthritis is to get moving. While it may be hard to think of exercise when the joints hurt, moving is considered an important part of the treatment plan. Strengthening exercises build muscles around Osteoarthritis-affected joints, easing the burden on those joints and reducing pain. Range-of-motion exercise helps maintain and improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. Aerobic exercise helps to improve stamina and energy levels and also help to reduce excess weight. Talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.
Excess weight adds additional stress to weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, feet and back. Losing weight can help people with OA reduce knee pain and limit further joint damage. The basic rule for losing weight is to eat fewer calories and increase physical activity.
Slow, gentle stretching of joints may improve flexibility, lessen stiffness and pain relief. Exercises such as yoga and tai chi are great ways to manage stiffness.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapists can provide a range of treatment options for pain management including:
- Ways to properly use joints
- Heat and cold therapies
- Range of motion and flexibility exercises
- Assistive devices
Natural and Alternative Therapies
Many people with OA use natural or alternative therapies to address symptoms and improve their overall well-being. These include nutritional supplements, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, relaxation techniques and hydrotherapy, among others.
Joint surgery can repair or replace severely damaged joints, especially hips or knees. A doctor will refer an eligible patient to an orthopedic surgeon to perform the procedure.
Many studies have demonstrated that a positive outlook can boost the immune system and increase a person's ability to handle pain.