Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis (OA)
One of the most common conditions that I treat in physical therapy is arthritis, the wearing away of cartilage that covers the end of the bones in a joint.
It is estimated that 70 million people in the United States are affected by this problem -- the exact cause of which is unknown. Some contributing factors include heredity, trauma to the the joint, repetitive stress to the joint, muscle weakness, joint alignment problems, and past surgery to the joint.
Articular cartilage serves to cushion the ends of the bones and helps them move smoothly. As the cover wears away, the ends of the bone may lose their normal shape, affecting joint movement. Further breakdown may cause the ends of the bones to rub together, possibly causing pain and swelling.
Because this happens so frequently at the knee, we will focus on care of this particular joint.
I have asked Dr. William Wind of University Sports Medicine to discuss the nonoperative treatments of this condition.
Dr. Wind's Advice
Treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) begins with identifying its preventable and treatable causes. The goal of OA therapy is to relieve pain and improve joint function. Treatment typically begins with nonoperative measures.
Oral medications: The most commonly used medications used to treat OA include the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. NSAIDs work by decreasing the inflammation associated with OA. They are effective at relieving the pain and swelling associated with OA in most patients. Unfortunately, these medications may result in gastric problems with chronic use.