After being diagnosis with Osteoarthritis (OA) the first treatment you seek should not be that of prescription medications. The first line to relieve joint pain is commonly non-prescription. These treatments can be used effectively and will cost little money compared to the medication that may be prescribed. Three things that may be useful include education, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy. OA is a form of arthritis that results in loss of cartilage in the joints. In some people, this may include inflammation. The biggest complaint that brings patients to seek medical advice is the pain associated with this condition. Learning to relieve this pain by knowing exactly what can be expected, adapting to certain limitations and developing a physical therapy (PT) plan are all great things you can do.
The biggest thing that you can do as a patient is to get educated. Ask questions and do research. Knowing about your condition will give you the power to understand what is happening to your body and why. Once you understand the mechanics of what is going on then you can better understand how to make it feel better. Some great websites to consider would include WebMD and MediLexicon. These sites will provide more facts about this painful condition. There are also many articles on AC. Talking to your healthcare provider can also give you insight as to what to expected from all pain relief options. The limitations that come with OA may cause depression and other psychological effects. Therefore, a good support system will be another educational tool that will be useful.
Lifestyle changes for patients with OA come in three types. This includes exercise, weight regulation, and diet. The OA patient should have a program with low-impact exercise. There was a belief that exercising the affect joint would cause it to ‘wear-out’ faster, but that has been proven not to be the case. A good exercise program will help maintain a healthy range of motion and flexibility. Exercise will help increase muscle strength. Examples of great exercises for a patient with OA include swimming and walking. Although the exact cause of arthritis is unknown, one risk factor includes obesity. OA increases by 10% for each kilogram of body weight over the ideal body weight. Carrying excess weight can put pressure on joints and can increase pain. Changing some things in your diet can help with your pain relieve and keep a healthy weight. Avoiding sugars and having a well balanced diet can be the easiest things you can do to help with weight problems.
Physical Therapy (PT) can be useful in increasing range of motion and decrease the amount of pain that an OA patient may experience. It is often a good idea to combine PT with occupational therapy (OT). Physical therapists will show you an effective exercise program and may even recommend new approaches to doing everyday activities. OT does similar things, but involves small gross motor skills. These include hands. OT will teach you many ways to conserve your energy and learn how to improve joint function. These therapists may even recommend the use of certain devices that will decrease the amount of ‘flare-ups’. Learn how to get the best out of Physical Therapy.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that can be painful and discouraging. However, many things that can help the pain do not involve medication. The medicine is there if needed, but often using some simple tools you may find relieve.
Messier SP, Loeser RF, Miller GD, et al. Exercise and dietary weight loss in overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis: the Arthritis,Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50(5):1501-1510