Osteoarthritis non operative treatment banner top

Osteoarthritis Non-operative Treatment

Home  /  GP's & Physiotherapists  /  Osteoarthritis Non Operative Treatment

The term arthritis means inflammation of a joint, but is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. The joint becomes inflamed causing pain, swelling, stiffness, instability and often deformity.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis often due to ‘wear and tear.’ The smooth articular cartilage surface which covers the bone wears out or is damaged and becomes irregular, fissured and may fall off revealing the underlying bone. If this happens the underlying bones can rub together, producing the pain typical of arthritis. It causes pain in the joints and surrounding soft tissues and limits the range of movement of a joint.

There are several factors which contribute to the development of osteoarthritis including age, being overweight, heavy manual jobs, genetic factors, and joint damage from a previous injury.

Severe arthritis can interfere with activities of daily living and limits lifestyle. The severe pain of osteoarthritis can be very disabling.

Treatment Options

Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:

  • Education and understanding
  • Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
  • Joint protection, to prevent stress or strain on painful joints e.g. knee supports or braces, cushioned insoles, and orthotics
  • Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight bearing joints
  • Physiotherapy and / or heat or cold treatments
  • Medicines: e.g.anti-inflammatory gels, the use of non- steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g. neurofen), non narcotic analgesics such as Paracetamol. Alternative medicines include as Glucosamine and Chondroitin and cod liver oil
  • Injections of Hyaluronic acid or Steroids into the joint

Steroids improve symptoms by reducing the inflammation within the arthritic joint. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring molecule that provides lubrication and cushioning in a normal joint. Hyaluronic acid preparations are available which can be injected into joints affected by osteoarthritis to relieve pain, restore lubrication and cushioning, improving joint function. A number of studies have shown that Hyaluronic acid injection may be more effective than steroid injection and may improve pain symptoms delaying the need for joint replacement surgery. In severe cases, surgery may be suggested, such as a hip or knee replacement which can give good results. The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the disease.