Orthopedic Surgery, Pain Management
November 18, 2015
What Are My Treatment Options as Osteoarthritis Progresses?
Chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis can impact your quality of life. Follow your doctor’s osteoarthritis treatment guidelines to take advantage of all your options.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness, and tenderness in your joints. As osteoarthritis progresses, it can also affect your range of motion and make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. Although there is no cure, several osteoarthritis treatment options that help ease your pain and restore your flexibility are available.
Some cases of osteoarthritis can be managed with over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but these drugs have certain drawbacks. Acetaminophen only provides temporary relief and may not be strong enough to ease severe joint pain.
NSAIDs reduce inflammation, but they also come with the risk of negative side effects ranging from an immediate upset stomach to eventual liver damage. Over-the-counter medications can provide short-term relief for those with mild pain and stiffness, but more advanced cases may require other osteoarthritis treatment options.
Physical and occupational therapy can help with your more severe osteoarthritis symptoms. Physical therapy can help restore your range of motion and make the muscles around your affected joints stronger, which provides relief from pain and stiffness. Occupational therapy teaches you how to perform your daily tasks without straining your joints.
For advanced cases of osteoarthritis accompanied by severe pain and very limited flexibility, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgical procedures are more likely to be recommended if other forms of treatment have not been effective or if you have lost a significant amount of cartilage in your joints. Surgical options for osteoarthritis include both:
- Arthroscopy: This type of surgical procedure is often done to remove bone pieces or loose cartilage, or to correct joint problems. Arthroscopic surgery can also be performed to smooth bone surfaces that have been worn down, or to diagnose joint problems.
During arthroscopy, your orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision, then inserts a tiny viewing instrument with a light attached to it to view your joint. Tiny instruments are then used to repair your damaged joint. Arthroscopy can be done on several joints, including the knee, ankle, elbow, and shoulder.
- Joint Replacement: This type of surgery can be performed on several different joints, but it is usually recommended for knee, shoulder, and hip During a joint replacement procedure, the damaged or deteriorated ends of your bones are removed and replaced with pieces made from metal or plastic. Joint replacement surgery is typically performed when other procedures have not eased your pain or if there is severe, irreversible damage to your joint.