Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in patients, and this condition affects almost 30 million Americans alone. This is a degenerative joint disease that is characterized by cartilage that is being broken down, especially the cushions that allow bones to move smoothly. OA can occur in the hips, neck and lower back; however there are a few things you can do that will help you to manage the pain that is associated with OA.
Losing Excess Weight
Studies have shown that patients who lose weight have experienced an increase in the quality of life, even though they did not receive any additional treatment for their osteoarthritis. Their ability to perform daily tasks have improved and they are able to take part in certain sport activities too. Weight loss is one of the best ways to reduce osteoarthritic pain in patients, according to the Arthritis Treatment Center in Maryland.
Unfortunately it might be a bit difficult to exercise with OA; studies show that exercise strengthens muscles and tissues around your cartilage, and this can reduce pain and inflammation. Losing weight will not only help to burn excess calories but it will help to reduce the pain of OA and increase the flexibility of joints. Exercises like cycling, walking and swimming are excellent choices.
Hot and Cold Compresses
Cold can help to reduce pain and inflammation, especially just after a workout session. It is very convenient to use reusable cold packs, although they should not be used for more than 20 minutes at a time. A heating pad can be just as effective for stiff joints, as heat will allow movements to be easier. Hot and cold therapies won’t fix the underlying issues but it will provide relief.
Medication and Dietary Supplements
Studies show that acetaminophen is an effective pain reliever for people with OA but it won’t help inflammation. Overusing these can result in liver and kidney problems, so it needs to be taken with caution. If over-the-counter medications aren’t effective, doctors might prescribe something more effective like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
Braces and Physical Therapy
Some cases might require you to remove the load from a joint, which will alleviate inflammation too. Knee braces are effective but special shoe inserts can also help other affected areas. Physical therapy can also provide exercises and stretches that will be able to strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion.
Injections and Shots
If you don’t find any treatment that is effective, you might consider a corticosteroid injection. This reduces inflammation and possibly also the pain which is a welcomed relief for many. Another option is a procedure called visosupplementation and this is when a lubricating fluid is injected in the joint of the knee. This procedure has not yet been approved for other joints but is very effective for the knees.
Osteoarthritis might seem challenging but with proper treatment it can be significantly managed. It will impact your mobility but it won’t have to completely overrule your lifestyle, as there are various treatment options available. Speak to your doctor about possible treatment that might work for you.
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