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Your Osteoarthritis Treatment Options

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Hyaluronic Acid

Your joints contain a natural lubricant and shock absorber called hyaluronic acid, but people with osteoarthritis have less of this substance than normal. Hyaluronic acid is injected in the knee joint using products which may ease osteoarthritis pain in the knees, shoulders, and hips. This treatment may also help your joints move more smoothly. Side effects are usually mild and may include pain or swelling at the injection site.

Antidepressants

Your doctor may recommend the use of antidepressants to help treat chronic pain whether you have depression or not. The antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta) is approved for chronic musculoskeletal pain, including the pain of osteoarthritis.

Another class of antidepressants called tricyclics may also help manage chronic pain. These include, desipramine, imipramine  and nortriptyline. It is not exactly clear how antidepressants help curb pain, but antidepressant effects on brain chemicals is believed to play a role.

Side effects can range from drowsiness to dry mouth and blurred vision. Rarely, these drugs can lead to mood changes or suicidal thoughts.

Surgery

Most people with osteoarthritis don't need surgery. But if your pain and stiffness are so severe that you can’t get around, your doctor might suggest it as a last resort.

Surgery can improve your joint alignment, help your joints move more smoothly, and relieve your pain. Techniques used for osteoarthritis include:

Arthroscopy

During this procedure, the surgeon makes a very small cut in the affected joint and inserts a thin, lighted tube and small surgical instruments. Through this small cut, the doctor can view joint damage and remove loose pieces of cartilage, smooth out rough surfaces, or remove damaged tissues. It may temporarily ease arthritis pain, but there is debate about whether it works better than medication or physical therapy.

Osteotomy

If you're still young and active and have knee or hip osteoarthritis, you may be able to have an osteotomy, or joint-preserving surgery. By cutting and removing a section of the bone, this procedure improves joint alignment and stability so you can delay having joint replacement surgery.

Joint fusion

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