Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Osteoarthritis Treatment Options

Nothing lasts forever, including your joints. Decades of running, jumping, kneeling, and climbing stairs eventually wears down their cushioning cartilage, leaving bone rubbing painfully against bone. When joint cartilage erodes, joints become stiff, swollen, and arthritic.

Although arthritis comes in many different varieties, by far the most common kind is osteoarthritis. As we get older -- and heavier -- more and more of us become vulnerable to sore, stiff, swollen joints.

Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis

How to Make an Arthritis-Friendly Home

Your home should be a place where you feel safe and comfortable. But when you have arthritis, it may seem like your home is filled with obstacles, such as doors that are hard to open and lamps that are difficult to turn on. Assistive devices for arthritis can help make these everyday tasks easier. From opening small jars and bottles to getting out of the tub, these devices can ease the strain on your joints. These tools are available at your local pharmacy, hardware store, or medical supply store,...

Read the How to Make an Arthritis-Friendly Home article > >

About 27 million people complain of joint pain due to osteoarthritis. If you're one of them, here's a look at some of your treatment options. Although these medications and techniques won't cure your joint problems, they can relieve your pain and get your knees, wrists, hips, and shoulders moving more like they used to again.

Simple Ways to Protect Your Joints

The size of the number on your bathroom scale could have a big effect on how you feel. Osteoarthritis is more common -- and severe -- in people who are overweight. Losing weight if you are overweight or obese and getting regular exercise are important ways to take pressure off already overburdened joints and help control pain. Here are some ways to keep a healthy weight with food and exercise, and a few other tips to help you relieve joint pain.

Diet for Osteoarthritis

Eating a healthy, low-fat diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins will help you control your weight.

Relieving Stiff Joints With Exercise

When you're in pain, the last thing you may want to do is exercise, but it's actually one of the best things you can do for your joints. Talk to your doctor about what exercises are most appropriate for you. Physical therapy is also a common part of treatment in people with OA. To see the most improvement, combine these three types of exercises into your routine: 

  • Aerobic exercises, including walking, dancing, and riding a bicycle, will keep your heart healthy and your muscles strong while controlling your weight. Swimming is an excellent aerobic exercise for people with osteoarthritis, because the buoyancy and warm water support and soothe achy joints.
  • Strength-training exercises, such as lifting weights, strengthen the muscles so they can better support the joints.
  • Stretching exercises, which increase flexibility and relieve stiff joints.

Cold and Heat

A heating pad or cold pack can feel really good on achy joints. Unless you've got an injury, in which case cold is optimal for the first couple of days, use whichever one feels better. You can apply cold or heat several times a day; just remember to cover the cold pack with a towel and keep your heating pad at a low setting to avoid burning your skin. Whether you use heat or cold, remove it after 20 to 30 minutes.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Ice pack on knee
Article
Sore feet with high heel shoes
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman with pain increased by rainy weather
Slideshow
Woman in gym
SLIDESHOW
 
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