Current Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. Achy, stiff joints are common as we age, but at times, the pain can become severe. There are many treatment options for those suffering from arthritis including activity modification, medications, physical therapy, injections and surgery. Proper treatment must be individualized to the patient for the best results.

Activity modification means adapting your lifestyle or changing the environment to compensate for limitations due to arthritis. This may include simple things such as parking closer to a store to limit the distance walking, using a cane or using a golf cart instead of walking a golf course on Saturday afternoons. Weight loss is an important part of activity modification. Carrying less body weight unloads the joints and minimizes the symptoms of mild to moderate arthritis.

Medications have been a mainstay of treatment for arthritis for many years. These include anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers, both over the counter and prescription. While they can be effective in relieving pain and improving function, they can have negative effects on your health. As a general rule, they should be used sparingly, at the lowest effective dose. If prolonged use of medication is necessary, it is advisable to consult your primary care physician to ensure safety and minimize potential side effects.

Physical therapy can be used effectively to maintain mobility of arthritic joints and minimize disability. Supervised physical therapy includes stretching, gentle strengthening and modalities such as heat, ice and ultrasound treatments to decrease pain and improve function. It is important to maintain a home exercise regimen in order to prolong the beneficial effects of therapy.

As the severity of symptoms worsens, consultation with an orthopedic surgeon can be very helpful. Non-operative treatments may be continued or other alternatives may be recommended. Joint injections with cortisone or “artificial lubricants” can be beneficial to many patients. Their effectiveness depends largely on the severity of the arthritis as well as the activity level of the patient.

If all non-operative measures have failed to relieve pain to a satisfactory level, surgical options are available which are very effective in relieving pain and restoring function. Surgery usually involves total joint replacement otherwise known as Total joint arthroplasty. This has become a very common procedure where the surface of the joint is replaced with a metal and plastic implant. Smooth gliding of the joint surfaces restores joint motion and relieves pain. With the evolution of newer implants, total joint replacements now last longer and are more durable than in the past allowing younger, more active patients to successfully benefit from joint arthroplasty.  Dedicated surgical units such as the Joint Replacement Center at Nyack Hospital have evolved to shorten the length of stay in the hospital to less than three days and rapid recovery programs get patients back to an active lifestyle more quickly. By employing specialized protocols, patients at the Nyack Hospital Joint replacement center enjoy minimized postoperative pain and quicker recovery. Specialized centers emphasize quality of care through minimizing complications, minimizing pain and maximizing patient satisfaction. Long term pain relief can be expected and the majority of patients will enjoy a pain free more active lifestyle for many years.

Osteoarthritis cannot be cured. But by employing the latest technology, we can treat and even reverse the painful effects of deteriorating joints. If you are suffering from osteoarthritis, see your physician to find out what treatment options are best for you.

Jordan A. Simon, M.D.
Director of The Joint Replacement Center at Nyack Hospital
Attending Orthopedic Surgeon Nyack Hospital
Partner, Orangetown Orthopedic Associates

Have you heard about the anti-inflammatory diet? 

Inflammation is a hot topic today as it is at the root of many chronic diseases.  Research is starting to show that certain food and eating patterns may help lower inflammation.

Here are some eating tips towards eating an anti-inflammatory diet:

Eat less processed, refined and low nutrient food

Consume more fruits and vegetables which provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds

Choose more high fiber carbohydrates and include whole grain

Add healthful fats like extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados, fish, and flax

Use antioxidant spices and herbs in your foods such as garlic, green herbs, ginger, and turmeri

Consume a variety of teas

Treat yourself to small amounts of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate (at least 70 % cocoa)