How Do Weight and Exercise Impact Osteoarthritis?
Losing weight if you are overweight or obese helps prevent osteoarthritis of the knees, reduces the stress on weight-bearing joints, and helps reduce pain in affected joints.
Exercise is important to improve joint movement and to strengthen the muscles that surround the joints. Gentle, low-impact exercises, such as swimming or walking on flat surfaces, are recommended, because they are less stressful on your joints. High-impact activity, such as jogging or high-impact aerobics, may increase joint pain. Strength training is also encouraged, particularly for muscles surrounding and supporting affected joints.
Heat or Cold Treatments for Osteoarthritis
If you have osteoarthritis, heat or cold treatments may be recommended to provide temporary relief of pain and stiffness. These treatments may be given in the form of a hot shower or bath, or by applying heating pads or cold compresses.
Supportive Devices for Osteoarthritis
Supportive or assistive devices may be helpful to decrease pressure on joints in osteoarthritis. Knee supports or braces may be helpful for some people to stabilize the ligaments and tendons and decrease pain. Canes may be helpful to take pressure off certain joints.
When Is Surgery Necessary for Osteoarthritis?
When osteoarthritis is severe, and pain is not controlled with medications or other mentioned treatments, or when the pain prevents you from participating in your normal activities, you may want to consider surgery.
There are several surgical procedures that could be used. They include:
- Arthroscopy to remove or repair loose or damaged tissue in the joint.
- Joint replacement surgery to replace the damaged joint with an artificial one. Even under the best of circumstances, surgery cannot return the joint to its original state. However, an artificial joint will very likely diminish pain. The two joints most often replaced are the hip joint and the knee joint.
- Joint fusion (arthrodesis) fuses the two bones on each side of the joint. The joint will no longer be flexible.
- Osteotomy realigns bones of the arm or leg to relieve pressure on the joint.
Talk to your doctor to determine if any of these treatment options are right for you.