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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Osteoarthritis - Topic Overview

There are many treatments for arthritis, but what works for someone else may not help you. Work with your doctor to find what is best for you. Often a mix of things helps the most.

Your treatment may include:

  • Using pain medicine. If your pain is mild, over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help. Commonly used NSAIDs include ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (such as Aleve). But if these don't get rid of your pain, you may need a stronger prescription medicine. Having shots of medicine in the joint also helps some people.
  • Using heat or ice on the painful joint. Heat may help you loosen up before an activity. Ice is a good pain reliever after activity or exercise. Your doctor may give you gels or creams that you can rub on the joint to make it stop hurting.
  • Losing weight, if you're overweight. Losing weight may be one of the best things you can do for your arthritis. It helps take some of the stress off of your joints.
  • Exercising to strengthen your muscles. Having stronger thigh muscles, for example, can help reduce stress on your knees. Swimming, biking, and walking are good activities. But make sure you talk to your doctor about what kind of activity is best for you. You may also get help from a physical therapist.
  • Having surgery. If the pain in your hip or knee does not get better with treatment, you may decide to have surgery to replace the joint.

There are also some things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms. For example, there are devices and tools that can take the stress and weight off of your joints and make it easier for you to hold objects, open and close things, and walk. Doorknob covers, tape, braces, splints, and canes may help.

You might also try changing activities or the way you do things to reduce the stress on the joint that hurts and allow you to move better. For example, walk instead of jog. Or use a sewing machine to make a quilt instead of making it by hand.

Learning about osteoarthritis:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with osteoarthritis:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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