Joint Diseases

Treatment Options

List of available treatment based on your diagnosis


Following the orthopaedic evaluation, the orthopaedic specialist will review and discuss the results with you. Based on his or her diagnosis, your treatment options may include:

Diet & Exercise

  • Average American is 20 - 40 lbs. overweight
  • Average person takes 5,000 - 7,000 steps/day
  • Reduces stress on weight-bearing joints (extra pressure on some joints may aggravate your arthritis)
  • A balanced diet helps manage weight and stay healthy

ROM Exercises

  • Maintains normal joint movement
  • Increases flexibility
  • Relieves stiffness

Strengthening exercises

  • Increasing muscle strength helps support and protect joints affected by arthritis
  • Exercise is an important part of arthritis treatment that is most effective when done properly and routinely

Aerobic Exercise

  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Helps control weight
  • May help reduce inflammation in joints

Rest and Joint Care

  • Short-term bed rest helps reduce both joint inflammation and pain, and is especially useful when multiple joints are affected and fatigue is a major problem
  • Individual joint rest is most helpful when arthritis involves one or only a few joints
  • Heat Therapy (increases blood flow, tolerance for pain, flexibility)
  • Cold Therapy: cold packs, ice massage, OTC sprays, and ointments (reduces pain by numbing the nerves around the joint)

The goal is to get you back to the point where you can perform normal, everyday activities without difficulty.

  • Preserving good range of motion is key to maintaining the ability to perform daily activities
  • Physical therapists provide exercises designed to preserve the strength and use of your joints
  • Show you the best way to move from one position to another
  • Teach you how to use walking aids

Your doctor may recommend a cane, walker or brace.

  • Analgesics, or pain relievers, may provide temporary relief of arthritis pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are traditional pain relievers.
  • Topical pain relievers are another option. Over-the-counter patches, rubs and ointments can provide quick pain relief for people with arthritis localized to only a few joints (such as in a hand) or whose pain isn't severe.

Glucosamine and chondroitin may relieve joint pain.

  • Occur in the body naturally; vital to normal cartilage function
  • Researchers are also studying chondroitin for use in making medicines more effective, and as anticoagulants to help prevent blood clots
  • Not FDA-approved
  • Warrant further in-depth studies on their safety and effectiveness, according to the Arthritis Foundation
  • May help osteoarthritis pain and improve function1, 2

Some studies indicate that glucosamine may help as much as ibuprofen in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knee, with fewer side effects.3

Side Effects

These arthritis supplements are generally well tolerated. However, side effects can occur. The most commonly reported side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Increased intestinal gas

See your doctor for complete information.

Cortisone injection may provide temporary relief.

  • Hyaluronic Acid (Cock’s Comb) injection
  • Effective (5-13 weeks)
  • Does not prevent progression
  • May be expensive

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint. A small incision is made and pencil-sized instruments are inserted that contain a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint.

If you and your doctor decide that joint replacement surgery is an option to relieve your pain, your doctor will provide the specific-to-you details about which type of artificial joint he or she will use, what you need to know to prepare for the surgery, how the surgery will be performed, and what results you can expect once you are up and moving again.

Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which certain parts of an arthritic or damaged joint, such as a hip or knee joint, are removed and replaced with a plastic or metal device called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to enable the artificial joint to move just like a normal, healthy joint.

Hip replacement involves replacing the femur (head of the thigh bone) and the acetabulum (hip socket). Typically, the artificial ball with its stem is made of a strong metal, and the artificial socket is made of polyethylene (a durable, wear-resistant plastic). In total knee replacement, the artificial joint is composed of metal and polyethylene to replace the diseased joint. The prosthesis is anchored into place with bone cement or is covered with an advanced material that allows bone tissue to grow into it.

References:
1. Dieppe P, et al. (2002). Osteoarthritis. Clinical Evidence (7): 1071–1090.
2. McAlindon TE, et al. (2000). Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis. A systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA, 283(11): 1469–1475.
3. Update on glucosamine for osteoarthritis (2001). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 43(1120): 111–112.