Aside from weight reduction and avoiding activities that exert excessive stress on the joint cartilage, there is no specific treatment to halt cartilage degeneration or to repair damaged cartilage in osteoarthritis. The goal of treatment in osteoarthritis is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function.others may benefit from conservative measures such as rest, exercise, diet control with weight reduction, physical and occupational therapy, and mechanical support devices. These measures are particularly important when large, weight-bearing joints are involved, such as the hips or knees. In fact, even modest weight reduction can help to decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis of the large joints, such as the knees and hips.
Medications are used to complement the physical measures described above. Medication may be used topically, taken orally, or injected into the joints to decrease joint inflammation and pain. When conservative measures fail to control pain and improve joint function, surgery can be considered.
In many patients with osteoarthritis, mild pain relievers such as aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be sufficient treatment. Studies have shown that acetaminophen given in adequate doses can often be equally as effective as prescription antiinflammatory medications in relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the knees. Since acetaminophen has fewer gastrointestinal side effects than NSAIDS, especially among the elderly patients, acetaminophen is generally the preferred initial drug given to patients with osteoarthritis. Medicine to relax muscles in spasm might also be given temporarily. Pain-relieving creams applied to the skin over the joints can provide relief of minor arthritis pain.
Examples : capsaicin (Arthricare, Zostrix), salycin (Aspercreme), methyl salicylate (Ben-Gay, Icy Hot), and menthol (Flexall)
New treatments include an antiinflammatory lotion, diclofenac (Voltaren Gel) and diclofenac patch (Flector Patch), which are being used for the relief of the pain of osteoarthritis.
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that are used to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints.
Examples of NSAIDs : aspirin (Ecotrin), ibuprofen (Motrin), nabumetone (Relafen), and naproxen (Naprosyn). It is sometimes possible to use NSAIDs for a while and then discontinue them for periods of time without recurrent symptoms, thereby decreasing side-effect risks.