Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic and progressive degenerative disease that affects the knees and other joints of the body. There is no cure for OA; however, several medical and non-medical options can be used to relieve OA symptoms.
Exercise or physical therapy will not only improve flexibility, range of motion, and pain of affected joints, but can also greatly improve a patient’s mood. A healthier diet is essential for weight control and reducing undue stress on affected joints.
Other alternative approaches toward dealing with OA include the application of heat and cold, massage, and the use of herbal and dietary supplements. The safety and effectiveness of herbal and dietary supplements in regards to OA is somewhat limited. Supplements are not regulated and should be used with caution.
In regards to the use of medication against OA pain, the first line of therapy is commonly over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory and pain relief drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol Arthritis®), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®), and naproxen (Aleve®). It is important not to simply self-medicate. A doctor may prescribe other interventions including stronger anti-inflammatory drugs. A direct injection of corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory medication directly into the joint can also provide temporary relief of OA symptoms. Injections of hyaluronic acid substitutes into the affected joint are used to improve joint lubrication. In more serious cases surgery might be warranted.
David J. Hunter and Felix Eckstein. (2009) Exercise and osteoarthritis. J Anat. 214, 197-207
Pubmed Health: Osteoarthritis http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001460/
NEBH: Osteoarthritis (OA) Research at New England Baptist Hospital
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS): Osteoarthritis http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp