What are the Different Treatments for Arthritis?

D. Jeffress

Arthritis is a medical condition that causes pain, stiffness, and a loss of mobility in a person's joints. While there is no clinically proven cure, there are several different treatments for arthritis that can relieve symptoms and allow people to maintain active lifestyles. Some of the most common treatments for arthritis are anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and topical creams. People may also find relief by leading healthier lifestyles and using alternative medicines. In severe cases of arthritis, sufferers may need to undergo invasive surgery to repair or replace afflicted joints.

A healthy hip and one with osteoarthritis.
A healthy hip and one with osteoarthritis.

A person who experiences joint pain, swelling, and stiffness should consult his or her physician to determine if arthritis is causing the discomfort. Once the doctor makes a confirming diagnosis, he or she will decide the most appropriate treatments for arthritis symptoms. A patient with a mild case of arthritis may be instructed to try over-the-counter medication, such as topical creams, anti-inflammatory drugs, and acetaminophen to relieve joint pain and swelling. Patients that do not find relief might be prescribed high-strength painkillers and steroids to combat arthritis symptoms.

More severe arthritis might require surgery.
More severe arthritis might require surgery.

In addition to taking medication, many doctors recommend that patients employ home treatments for arthritis. Patients often find relief from joint pain by eating healthier foods, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly. Losing weight and remaining active take strain off of joints and can significantly reduce pain and stiffness. Other remedies may include regularly applying hot and cold packs, taking time to stretch and warm up before engaging in activity, and avoiding putting excessive stress on a problem joint at home or work.

Some arthritis sufferers find relief in glucosamine supplements.
Some arthritis sufferers find relief in glucosamine supplements.

In recent years, the use of alternative medicine has become popular in treating certain arthritis symptoms. Most alternative treatments for arthritis have not been clinically proven to be beneficial, though many people strongly attest to their success. Many people rely on acupuncture, light therapy, magnets, or dietary supplements such as glucosamine and ginger to provide relief.

Green tea offers anti-inflammation benefits.
Green tea offers anti-inflammation benefits.

For some individuals, arthritis can be debilitating to a degree that makes everyday activities unmanageable. Such people often seek surgical treatments for arthritis symptoms that cannot be overcome by noninvasive methods. A surgeon may try to mend bones and tendons in a joint by clearing the problem area of loose cartilage and strengthening connective tissue. An area that is damaged beyond repair may require a joint replacement, in which a surgeon completely removes damaged tissue and inserts a prosthetic joint made of plastic or metal. Most patients are required to spend significant amounts of time in physical rehabilitation programs after undergoing surgical procedures.

Regular non-weight bearing exercise like swimming may alleviate the discomfort associated with arthritis.
Regular non-weight bearing exercise like swimming may alleviate the discomfort associated with arthritis.
When NSAIDs prove ineffective, doctors might recommend corticosteroid shots to the affected joint.
When NSAIDs prove ineffective, doctors might recommend corticosteroid shots to the affected joint.
Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints.
Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints.

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