Also called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common joint problems in the world. This condition can impact any joint in the body, but it typically affects the knees, hips, back, or hands. Over the course of a few years, osteoarthritis will permanently damage a patient’s joints and some of the ligaments around their joints. That is why it is so important to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan.
Most OA treatments are designed to minimize pain and improve mobility. Some of them also slow the rate of degeneration and prevent the nearby tissue from becoming damaged. Patients who have osteoarthritis usually benefit from utilizing multiple treatments and therapies. Here is a closer look at some of the leading treatment options for this pervasive joint condition.
OA Treatments and Management Techniques
Many of the initial symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medications. Painkillers reduce discomfort and improve mobility. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be taken to lessen joint pain and reduce inflammation. Patients should be wary of taking any kind of over the counter medications for an extended period of time. Those medications are difficult for the body to process, and the organs can become permanently damaged if an individual takes multiple doses every day.
Studies have revealed that many different supplements can be used to combat the side effects of OA. Researchers discovered that omega-3 fatty acids reduce morning stiffness and improve joint lubrication. In addition to fatty acid supplements, patients might also want to eat multiple servings of fatty fish every week. Vitamin C is another great nutrient for patients who are suffering from joint problems. This particular vitamin helps the body build connective tissue. As a general rule, older adults should try to consume at least 90 milligrams of vitamin C every day.
The goal of occupational therapy is to make everyday tasks much easier to carry out. Those who are living with chronic pain or mobility issues often find it difficult to get dressed, make meals, and move around the house. An occupational therapist can come up with unique ways to complete those tasks without putting any extra pressure on the joints. An example of this would be installing grab bars in the bathroom to improve one’s balance while getting in and out of the bathtub. They might also suggest using utensils that have larger grips or wearing specialty shoes with additional padding.
Patients who are diagnosed with osteoarthritis must speak with a physical therapist about coming up with a safe exercise program. Osteoarthritis makes it very difficult to work out, but exercising is one of the best ways to strengthen the joints and stay within a healthy weight range. Every extra pound that is on an individual’s frame will increase the amount of stress that is on their joints. Patients who have OA are often told by physical therapists to stick to low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, and riding a stationary bicycle. Those exercises can increase one's range of motion and improve overall mobility.
Injections and Surgery
If lifestyle changes don’t help, then a doctor may suggest injections of some type. Injections are given to arthritis patients to reduce their discomfort for a few weeks at a time. Unfortunately, those injections can only be administered two or three times a year. Some doctors also offer lubrication injection. Once those injections no longer work, a doctor may suggest replacing the entire joint. Joint replacement surgery usually mitigates the side effects of OA for multiple years.
Additional Facts to Know
- Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that will continue to get worse as time goes on
- Nearly half of all adults develop some form of arthritis by the age of 80
- The side effects of OA can usually be managed with the proper treatment plan
- Patients who have osteoarthritis must speak with a joint specialist about their treatment options
- Healthy lifestyle habits can minimize joint pain and improve mobility
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