HealthONE - May 03, 2018

If joint pain caused by arthritis has lowered your quality of life, you may be interested in some of the latest treatment options that can help ease discomfort and even slow disease progression in osteoarthritis. Keep reading to see your options, and consult with an orthopedics specialist to decide which treatment option is right for you.

Medication
To manage arthritis symptoms in affected joints, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter or prescription-strength medication to reduce pain, control swelling and minimize inflammation. As a first line of defense, medications like acetaminophen can help relieve osteoarthritis pain. While acetaminophen is not an effective treatment for inflammation, it has fewer potential side effects than long-term use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

While aspirin and other NSAIDs like ibuprofen may help relieve osteoarthritis pain and inflammation, they can have serious side effects like ulcers, bleeding, impaired kidney function, blood clotting issues and increased blood pressure. While use of NSAIDs over a short one- or two-week period reduces the risk of side effects, prolonged use, a higher dose and certain medical conditions will increase this risk. NSAIDs are available over the counter and as a prescription, so talk to your doctor before starting any medications.

Hyaluronic Acid Injections

In people with osteoarthritis, the synovial fluid in between your joints can thin out with age and lose its lubricating benefits. Fortunately, a compound called hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in synovial fluid and can help ease joint pain by making it thicker. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a form of hyaluron for injection into the knees of people with osteoarthritis to help thicken synovial fluid, decrease pain and improve mobility.

Surgery
Minimally invasive surgical procedures can help relieve joint pain and restore mobility in people with osteoarthritis. With arthroscopy, a surgeon inserts a thin, lighted scope through a small incision to examine the joint for damage. Then, two more incisions provide access to inject fluid and repair torn tissue. Arthroscopy can also be used to remove damaged cartilage or bone that may be causing pain and inflammation inside the joint. Another arthroscopic procedure, tidal lavage utilizes a sterile salt solution to flush out debris and inflammation-inducing substances from inside the joint.

Another surgical option, osteotomy helps joints with arthritis move against each other with less friction to protect from further cartilage damage, inflammation and pain. Combined with postsurgical rehabilitation, osteotomy can slow the progression of osteoarthritis and significantly reduce pain.

Joint Replacement and Fusion
Often reserved for advanced cases of osteoarthritis, joint replacement removes impaired areas of the joint and replaces them with prosthetics. If joint replacement fails or is not an option, arthrodesis surgically fuses a joint to adjacent bones. In this procedure, impaired joints grow together to severely limit movement.

Ask an orthopedics specialist about the osteoarthritis treatment option that’s right for you.