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Your osteoarthritis treatment depends on how severe your pain is and how much it limits your activities. Treatment plans will include non-medication therapy, but medications are often needed as well. Usually doctors will first suggest over-the-counter pain medicines. If these don't help enough, your doctor can prescribe more powerful medications that help treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

There are many effective medications for OA. If one does not work well for you, talk to your doctor about trying another.

Medications for Osteoarthritis Treatment

Osteoarthritis Surgery: The Next Stage

If you have severe joint damage, severe pain, or very limited motion, you may need surgery for your osteoarthritis. These procedures can relieve pain and allow for better mobility.

  • Arthroscopic surgery: This is a common outpatient procedure for knees and shoulders. It allows surgeons to repair the surfaces of damaged joints -- removing loose cartilage, repairing cartilage tears, and smoothing bone surfaces.
  • Joint replacement surgery: When nothing else has worked, damaged joints can be replaced with artificial joints. Hips and knees are most commonly replaced, but artificial joints are now available for shoulders, fingers, elbows, and back joints.
  • Osteotomy: When someone is too young for joint replacement, this procedure can increase stability in knees or hip joints. It involves cutting bone to redistribute weight on a joint and make it more stable.
  • Joint fusion: Also called arthrodesis, this surgery involves fusing two bones on each end of a joint -- thus getting rid of the joint itself. It is used when joints are severely damaged and causing significant pain. It is also done when joint replacement is not effective, as with the ankle.Though a fused joint is not flexible, it is more stable, can bear weight better, and will no longer cause pain due to osteoarthritis.