Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

(continued)

Who Treats Osteoarthritis?

Treating arthritis often requires a multidisciplinary or team approach. Many types of health professionals care for people with arthritis. You may choose a few or more of the following professionals to be part of your health care team:

Primary care physicians: doctors who treat patients before they are referred to other specialists in the health care system.

Rheumatologists: doctors who specialize in treating arthritis and related conditions that affect joints, muscles, and bones.

Orthopaedists: surgeons who specialize in the treatment of, and surgery for, bone and joint diseases.

Physical therapists: health professionals who work with patients to improve joint function.

Occupational therapists: health professionals who teach ways to protect joints, minimize pain, perform activities of daily living, and conserve energy.

Dietitians: health professionals who teach ways to use a good diet to improve health and maintain a healthy weight.

Nurse educators: nurses who specialize in helping patients understand their overall condition and implement their treatment plans.

Physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists): medical doctors who help patients make the most of their physical potential.

Licensed acupuncture therapists: health professionals who reduce pain and improve physical functioning by inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body.

Psychologists: health professionals who seek to help patients cope with difficulties in the home and workplace resulting from their medical conditions.

Social workers: professionals who assist patients with social challenges caused by disability, unemployment, financial hardships, home health care, and other needs resulting from their medical conditions.

What You Can Do: The Importance of Self-Care and a Good-Health Attitude

While health care professionals can prescribe or recommend treatments to help you manage your arthritis, the real key to living well with the disease is you. Research shows that people with osteoarthritis who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. They also enjoy a better quality of life.

Living well and enjoying good health despite arthritis requires an everyday lifelong commitment. Following are six habits worth committing to:

1. Get educated: To live well with osteoarthritis, it pays to learn as much as you can about the disease. Three kinds of programs help people understand osteoarthritis, learn selfcare, and improve their good-health attitude. They are:

  • patient education programs
  • arthritis self-management programs
  • arthritis support groups.

These programs teach people about osteoarthritis, its treatments, exercise and relaxation, patient and health care provider communication, and problem solving. Research has shown that people who participate in these programs are more likely to have positive outcomes.

Self-Management Programs Do Help

People with osteoarthritis find that self-management programs help them:

  • understand the disease
  • reduce pain while remaining active
  • cope physically, emotionally, and mentally
  • have greater control over the disease
  • build confidence in their ability to live an active, independent life.

2. Stay active: Regular physical activity plays a key role in self-care and wellness. Three types of exercise are important in osteoarthritis management. The first type, strengthening exercises, help keep or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis. The second type, aerobic conditioning exercises, improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight, and improve overall function. The third type, range-of-motion exercises, help reduce stiffness and maintain or increase proper joint movement and flexibility.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
 
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
 
Keep Joints Healthy
SLIDESHOW
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
HEALTH CHECK
 
close up of man with gut
Article
man knee support
Article
 
woman with cold compress
QUIZ
Man doing tai chi
Article
 
hand gripping green rubber ball
Slideshow
person walking with assistance
Slideshow