Chicago Health | Homepage
Osteoarthrosis can’t be reversed, but symptoms can be effectively managed

Osteoarthrosis can’t be reversed, but symptoms can be effectively managed

Mayo Clinic Q&A

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My mother, 70, has osteoarthritis and was prescribed medication to help with the pain. What else can she do to keep it from worsening? Is physical therapy an option?

ANSWER: Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that slowly gets worse over time. Although the process of osteoarthritis can’t be reversed, the symptoms usually can be effectively managed. Medication helps. Exercising regularly, staying at a healthy weight and lowering stress on joints makes a difference, too. For many people who have osteoarthritis, physical therapy is a useful part of their treatment plan.

Osteoarthritis happens when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in joints gradually breaks down. That leads to joint pain, tenderness and stiffness. Although osteoarthritis may damage any joint, it’s most common in the hands, knees, hips and spine.

As in your mother’s situation, medications such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, frequently are used to control osteoarthritis. Several topical medications are available that can reduce joint pain, too. They include, among others, capsaicin cream and a gel form of the NSAID ibuprofen.

Exercising on a regular basis also helps ease osteoarthritis symptoms. This is where physical therapy may be useful. A physical therapist can work with your mother to create an individual exercise program to strengthen the muscles around her joints, increasing her range of motion and reducing pain.

Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, biking and walking, usually work well. Some people also enjoy activities such as tai chi and yoga, which combine gentle exercises and stretching with deep breathing. A physical therapist can help your mother decide on the activities that are right for her.

Staying at a healthy weight also is an important part of managing osteoarthritis. Carrying extra weight increases the stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. Even a small amount of weight loss can relieve some pressure and decrease pain. If she would like to lose weight, your mother can ask her health care provider for a referral to a dietitian. He or she can discuss healthy weight-loss strategies, offer suggestions for meal planning and provide your mother with nutritious recipes to get started.

To keep her symptoms from getting worse, your mother should try to avoid overusing the joints affected by osteoarthritis. A variety of assistive devices are available that can make everyday tasks less stressful on joints. For example, using a cane takes weight off a painful knee or hip. Gripping and grabbing tools make it easier to open doors and jars. Encourage your mother to ask her health care provider for information about these and other assistive devices that might be useful for her.

Some forms of alternative medicine have been suggested for osteoarthritis treatment, too. Acupuncture — a technique that involves inserting extremely thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body — may contribute to pain control for some people. Meditation may also ease osteoarthritis symptoms in certain cases.

The nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin often are touted as effective treatment for osteoarthritis. Results from studies on these nutritional supplements have been mixed though. A few have found benefits for people with osteoarthritis, but most have shown no clear effects. If your mother is interested in trying these supplements, encourage her to talk with her health care provider first. Glucosamine is not safe for people who are allergic to shellfish. Also, glucosamine and chondroitin may interact with blood thinners, such as warfarin, and cause bleeding problems.

Before she goes forward with any additional treatment, it would be a good idea for your mother to make an appointment to see her health care provider, talk about her options and discuss the benefits and risks of each. From there, they can ar — John Davis III, M.D., Rheumatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic Q & A is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to MayoClinicQ&A@mayo.edu. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.

(c) 2016 MAYO FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Antibiotics can be an option rather than surgery for simple appendicitis

Antibiotics can be an option rather than surgery for simple appendicitis

The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Expert  By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: A friend recently was diagnosed with

How to improve your cholesterol levels

How to improve your cholesterol levels

By Joyce Hendley If one-third of Americans have unhealthy cholesterol levels, why did the U.S. recently

Five things parents should know about stomachaches

Five things parents should know about stomachaches

By Cleveland Clinic's Children's Health Team How can you tell if it's a regular tummy ache

Quick tips for gluten-free eating

Quick tips for gluten-free eating

By EatingWell Going gluten-free can feel difficult -- especially at first -- but it doesn't have

Young adults need to take prehypertension seriously

Young adults need to take prehypertension seriously

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Expert  By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I checked my blood pressure

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

March 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
February 26, 2017 February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017 March 4, 2017
March 5, 2017 March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017
March 12, 2017 March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017
March 19, 2017 March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017 March 25, 2017
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives