How to manage Osteoarthritis?

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Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs due to failure of the repair process of damaged joints. It is characterised by cartilage loss and the bone response of the joint. There is significant inflammation of the affected joint and surrounding tissues. Osteoarthritis occurs in young people as well as older people.


Symptoms of osteoarthritis

  • Pain and swelling of the affected joint.
  • Stiffness and limited movements of the joint.

Sites of osteoarthritis

Common sites are hips, knees, hands and lower part of the spine. Other uncommon sites are the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and the feet. Osteoarthritis can occur in more than one joint.


Management of osteoarthritis

  • You should discuss with your doctor about the management plan of osteoarthritis (pros and cons).
  • Exercises to strengthen your affected joint.
  • Aerobic fitness training.
  • Lose body weight, if you are overweight.
  • Use suitable footwear (shock-absorbing shoes and insoles).
  • Use assistive devices (such as walking sticks), supports and braces.
  • Application of heat or cold packs to the surrounding skin of the joint will cut the pain.
  • Paracetamol and local application of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the first-line pharmacological treatments.
  • Oral NSAIDs including Cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitors, opioids, intra-articular corticosteroid injections, and capsaicin local applications are the second-line pharmacological treatments.
  • Trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (or TENS for short) for pain relief.
  • You may need surgery, if you are still experiencing pain after these treatments.


(Photo courtesy Quinn Dombrowski)

About the author
Dr. Nalaka Priyantha is the founder and author of 'DRN Health'. He currently works at the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka as a senior medical officer. He is blogging about healthy living since 2012.
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