Osteoarthritis can be managed with exercises, weight control, rest, pain relief, alternative therapies and surgery.
Osteoarthritis requires a combined modality approach to restore the patient his/her near normal life and improve the quality of living. It requires the co-operation of the various medical and paramedical personnel involved in the treatment process.
Medical Management of Osteoarthritis
- The health status of the patient is assessed and oral medicines are given to reduce the pain and swelling. Most doctors prescribe acetaminophen for pain relief. However, if the pain continues, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be given.
- Hydrocortisone injections can also be given into the joints for reducing pain and swelling.
- Calcium supplements are also prescribed in case of calcium deficiency.
Role of Physiotherapy in Osteoarthritis
Physiotherapy reduces and relieves pain, joint stiffness and muscle tightness. It also strengthens the weak muscles and helps in improving the mobility.
Role of surgery in osteoarthritis
If the disease is severe and when the medical treatment and physiotherapy does not yield any relief, surgery can be considered as a treatment option. The various surgical procedures available for treatment are:
Replacement Arthroplasty- It is a surgical procedure that involves removal of the affected part of the joint and replacement with suitable artificial joint structures. It is of two types.
a. Hemi Replacement Arthroplasty When a part of the joint is affected, it is removed and replaced by suitable artificial joint structure.
b. Total Replacement Arthroplasty When the whole of the joint is affected, it is completely removed and replaced by suitable artificial joint structure.
Osteotomy The term 'Osteo' refers to bone, 'tomy' refers to 'to cut'. Osteotomy is thus a surgical procedure which involves opening and cutting the affected part of a bone and removing it.
Role of occupational therapy in osteoarthritis- Occupational therapy helps to train the patient to perform his daily activities, independently with or without the use of assistive devices (splints) in case of disablement. It would be helpful to follow the precautions mentioned below in this regard.
Alternative therapies- The following measures are usually adopted to comfort the patient:
- Wax Bath- A warm cloth (or) pad dipped in a paraffin wax is placed on the joint area to reduce pain and stiffness of the joint.
- Hot Packs- A specialized fabric pack immersed in hot water is placed on the affected area to give relief to the patient. Care should be taken to ensure that the warmth is bearable by the patient.
- Ice Application- Ice packs are applied over the affected area to relieve pain and loosen the tight muscles.
- Short Wave Diathermy- The warmth obtained from short wave diathermy current is effective in reducing arthritic pain and muscle tightness.