Osteoarthritis – Treatment
Patients should avoid any movement or action that causes pain in the affected joints, such as climbing stairs and carrying loads (obese patients should lose weight). Osteoarthritis treatment in the form of Paracetamol, aspirin, heat and anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to reduce the pain in a damaged joint, and physiotherapy, acupuncture and massage have also been found to be useful.
Surgery to replace affected joints is very successful, with the most common joints replaced being the hip, knee and fingers. Surgery to fuse together the joints in the back is sometimes necessary to prevent movement between them, as they cannot be replaced.
Steroid injections into an acutely inflamed joint may give rapid relief, but they cannot be repeated frequently because of the risk of damage to the joint. In the knee, injections of hyaluronic acid may ease symptoms in advanced cases of osteoarthritis.
The prognosis depends on the joints involved and the disease severity. Cures can be achieved by joint replacement surgery, while other patients achieve reasonable control with medications. The inflammation in some severely affected joints can sometimes “burn out” and disappear with time.