To start, the initial treatment of osteoarthritis usually depends on your own physical condition. Thus, your age, weight, and ability to tolerate exercise and specific medications are important considerations. For example, if you are overweight, the initial treatment may involve weight reduction, which will put less stress on the joints. It is important to discuss your physical condition and desired activity level with your doctor so you can both start on the same page when discussing treatment.
The initial treatment recommendations may include the following:
- Avoidance of painful activity (for example, avoiding stairs)
- A period of rest (for example, minimize strenuous activity for several weeks)
- Weight reduction (just losing a few pounds can be quite helpful)
- Physical therapy and/or Exercise (may include pool therapy)
- Medication (for example - acetaminophen (tylenol) or aspirin)
- Other treatments - We will devote an entire article to supplements and alternative treatments in the future.
- Mechanical support devices, such as a cane or walker, if needed
The main purpose of the second doctor's visit is to discuss your progress since the first visit and encourage any positive lifestyle changes you are making. If you are progressing relatively well, then your doctor may continue your current treatment plan. If you are not improving, your doctor may recommend trying a different medication or any of the treatments listed above you have not tried yet. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. In any case, it is important to keep up with your lifestyle changes such as weight loss and appropriate rest and exercise, and to keep a positive attitude about the situation.
In the next article we will discuss some more advanced treatments for osteoarthritis.
Read the first part of this Series: