Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints, muscle and bones. It is caused by a gradual deterioration of the cartilage, tendons and ligaments in the bones and joints. There may also be bony changes in the joints and the tissue that lines the joints may become inflamed and irritated. This often results in joint stiffness and pain that worsens over time if left untreated. Fortunately, rheumatologists commonly treat this condition to help relieve these symptoms. These are some ways that rheumatologists can treat osteoarthritis.
The first step in attempting to relieve the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis commonly involves starting a therapy treatment plan. This may involve various physical therapy exercises that are meant to help reduce inflammation and help the patient regain some flexibility of the joints, bones and muscles. The type of exercises performed may vary depending on which area of the body the patient has osteoarthritis in. The patient may need to do physical therapy exercises several times a week or even on a daily basis to receive the full benefit of treatment.
Along with physical therapy, a rheumatologist from a place like Sarasota Arthritis Center may also prescribe hot or cold therapy as part of the treatment plan. This involves applying a heating pad or ice pack to the painful area to help reduce pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation.
Rheumatologists may also prescribe certain medications to help treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Some patients have found that taking over the counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, combined with therapy does relieve osteoarthritis pain. However, for those who have more severe pain, it may be necessary to have a prescription pain reliever as part of the treatment plan. There are also over the counter and prescription topical pain relievers that may help with this condition when applied where the pain is located.
Anti-inflammatory medications or lubricants are also used by rheumatologists to help relieve osteoarthritis. This is done by injecting a corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid directly into the joint or joints the patient has osteoarthritis in. This treatment helps reduce inflammation, which relieves pain and helps the patient regain more flexibility of the joint. Some patients have received substantial relief from osteoarthritis that has lasted for extended periods of time by having these injections.
If any of these treatment methods are not successful in relieving pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis, a surgical procedure may be necessary. This is often the case for those who have severe joint damage in which the painful joint must be repaired or replaced.