Patients should balance rest and activity throughout the day to relieve fatigue and pain. During acute inflammation, patients will need rest, but should limit it to no longer than 1 week to prevent joint stiffness and immobility.
Aerobic conditioning, range-of-motion exercises, and muscle strengthening has proven beneficial for many patients with OA. Additionally, overweight patients should be encouraged to lose weight. The use of complementary therapies, such as yoga, Tai Chi, TENS, and acupuncture may be helpful for some patients.
To aid in relieving pain and stiffness, heat and cold applications can be used. Heat therapy is used more often, while ice is occasionally used in the event of acute inflammation.
Intra-articular injections of corticosteroids may be used for patients with local inflammation and effusion. Another option is hyaluronic acid, a viscosupplementation, normally found in joint fluid and articular cartilage.
While acetaminophen can be used for pain management, those with moderate to severe OA pain or joint inflammation may find better relief from a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID). Patients often begin with over-the-counter strengths and may require increases in dosage as symptoms indicate.
In some cases, surgical treatment is needed to provide pain relief and improve the function of deformed joints. Reconstructive joint surgery may involve removal of the joint lining (synovectomy) or total joint replacement (arthroplasty).
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