There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis treatment consists of managing mild to moderate symptoms by a combination of lifestyle changes, physiotherapy, and medicines. Surgery is resorted to as a last resort.

Osteoarthritis (OA), is a common joint condition that occurs when the articular cartilage that cushions joints is damaged and degenerates over the years with accompanying hypertrophic bone changes.

There are several causes and risk factors of OA and treatment aims at addressing the cause.

Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, it most commonly affects the knees, hips, joints in your hands and spine.

Treatment options

Once the osteoarthritis diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will start treatment. Osteoarthritis treatment can be divided into three parts:

  • Natural remedies such as lifestyle changes, dietary restrictions, and exercises
  • Drugs for relief from symptoms
  • Surgical treatment

Lifestyle changes

If you are overweight or obese, you must lose weight. This will especially benefit osteoarthritis of the knee.

If you have gout, you must observe the dietary rules for gout. You must avoid alcohol and foods that are high in purines, and that includes organ meats (liver, kidney), dried beans, sardines, anchovies, asparagus, and mushrooms.

Purines increase uric acid in the blood and this causes painful crystals to deposit in the joints

Exercises for osteoarthritis management

Physical inactivity for prolonged periods will encourage contractures and worsen the clinical course of this condition.

Physiotherapy exercises for osteoarthritis are by far the most effective conservative treatments for osteoarthritis.

The physiotherapist explains to the patient certain suitable exercises, which the patient performs under supervision.

These exercises should be an everyday routine throughout life. It has been known to work wonders in patients with OA. They have arrested or even reversed the progression of the osteoarthritis of the knee and the hip.

Aerobics, strength training, stretching exercises, and aquatic exercises are usually advised.

This does not mean that you have to keep your joints mobile throughout the day. That will be overuse and detrimental. Rest to the affected joint is essential.


Medicines for osteoarthritis are only for relief from symptoms. A mild pain reliever like acetaminophen can give relief from mild to moderate joint pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed for pain relief of moderate to severe osteoarthritis and for reducing the swelling in the joint.

Over-the-counter, NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. Prescription NSAIDs are available such as celecoxib, ketoprofen, naproxen, piroxicam, and sulindac, and can be given for inflammation and swelling if present. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is an antidepressant and is also approved to treat chronic pain of osteoarthritis.

Intra-articular corticosteroid injections

Intra-articular corticosteroid is widely prescribed for osteoarthritis of the knee. Expert guidelines, such as those advocated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have always supported its benefit.

However, intra-articular corticosteroid injections provide short-term relief from flare-ups of the osteoarthritis symptoms of the knee. This relief can last from 4 to 8 weeks.

There is emerging evidence that suggests some risk of joint deterioration and worsening of the symptoms over the long term with these injections.


The orthopedic surgeon inserts an instrument called the arthroscopic into the affected joint like the knee or the hip joint. It can help diagnose the problems of the joint such as cartilage or ligament damage and help treat some of them. It is an outpatient procedure and does not need hospital admission.

If this procedure is successful, patients recover quickly. Arthroscopy is commonly performed to treat knee osteoarthritis. The process involves and includes lavage to clean the joint and debridement (removal of damaged tissue) of roughened surfaces and removal of loose debris. Meniscal tears are repaired in this process.

Joint replacement surgery

Joint replacement surgery for osteoarthritis is the last resort to treat osteoarthritis when the patient suffers from extreme pain and whereby an artificial joint replaces the affected joint. Total joint replacement of the hip, knee, or shoulder is recommended when the patient suffers from chronic pain and disability and conservative therapy has failed.

Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which the damaged joint is removed and replaced with a metal, plastic, or ceramic device called a prosthesis. The prosthesis acts as a normal joint and replicates the movement of a normal, healthy joint. Replacement surgery can also be performed on other joints including the ankle, wrist, shoulder, and elbow.