Osteoarthritis affects millions of people all around the world. It is the most common form of arthritis, and it occurs when the protective cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones wears down. Osteoarthritis mainly affects joints in the hips, knees, hands, and spine. Many people rush into surgical procedures when treating this condition, but that shouldn’t be the case. There are plenty of non-surgical treatments available, and they can be very effective as well. They include:
Hyaluronic acid injections
Our bodies naturally produce hyaluronic acid, but as we age, its production slows down. Hyaluronic acid cushions and lubricates your joints, which keeps them working smoothly. Osteoarthritis patients have very little hyaluronic acid in their joints, and therefore replenishing its supply can help relieve their pain. These injections are perfect for patients who cannot use painkillers.
Braces and assistive devices
Knee braces offer physical support, therefore reducing physical stress on your knees. There are two types of braces; a support brace and an unloader brace. The support brace offers compression while the unloader brace relieves pressure from the affected compartment. Consult your doctor on which brace is best for your condition. You can also use assistive devices such as crutches and canes.
Muscle-strengthening exercises have long been used to relieve pain and improve functional outcomes in osteoarthritis patients. You can choose between land and water-based physical therapy. However, a recent study showed that hydrotherapy was more effective at improving knee function. This method of treatment offers gradual results, so it might take a few weeks before you notice any improvements.
Cortisone is an effective anti-inflammatory medication used to treat orthopaedic diseases such as arthritis. These injections are a temporary solution and need to be accompanied by physical therapy and lifestyle changes. They should only be administered three to four times a year as regular administration can cause more joint damage. Cortisone injections are not recommended for patients with uncontrolled diabetes because they cause an acute rise in glucose levels.
Obese people are at a higher risk of getting osteoarthritis. Therefore, losing weight and pursuing improved physical health can help reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. Additionally, active people who participate in high-impact sports such as running and gymnastics often suffer from joint pain and inflammation. In this case, reducing the duration and intensity of said activities can be helpful.