Osteoarthritis treatment occurs in several stages, where the first stage is customized exercise training. The training should, at least at the beginning, be guided by a physical therapist. This should be combined with education about both osteoarthritis specifically as well as health in general. The education helps the patient understand how and why the exercises should be performed, which increases motivation.
Knowledge about our own body also helps to develop more long-term commitment. It is important for the treatment to continue in the long run since osteoarthritis is a chronic disease.
Pain relief and surgery relevant for some
The next stage of osteoarthritis treatment is pain relief and physical aids. This includes mild painkillers, but also larger interventions such as cortisone injections. Aids in the form of canes or knee protection can also reduce the pain and make everyday activities easier. If the thumb is affected, there are aids abailable for this as well.
In cases where these methods have been tried for a long period of time without satisfactory results, surgery may be necessary. This is not necessary for everyone affected by osteoarthritis, but for some it may be the only option. What gives the best effect are hip and knee prosthetics, but surgery can also be performed on other joints.
If surgery becomes necessary, it is important to understand that this is not a replacement for training and exercise, but rather a complement to it. Customized exercise is required both before and after the surgery for successful results. However, activities that involve severe strain on the affected joint is not recommended after surgery.
Weight reduction may be necessary for certain patients with osteoarthritis.
For people who are overweight, weight control may be relevant, since less bodyweight means less load on the joints. In this case, overweight means having more bodyweight than the muscles can carry. Hence, it is more important to be strong than to be thin. Stronger muscles are able to bear more bodyweight. Strength training is therefore a positive step for people who are overweight and have osteoarthritis. In certain cases, this should also be combined with weight reduction.