Arthritis Treatment Options

Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis. However, a number of measures can be taken which can greatly reduce the symptoms of arthritis and their affect on daily life.

Treatment of osteoarthritis (degenerative disease of the joint) focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement and function. 

Initial treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is conservative and consists of rest, avoidance of vigorous weight bearing activities and the use of non-narcotic analgesic and/or anti-inflammatory medications. If symptoms become worse a walking stick, crutch or a knee brace may be helpful.

For more severe symptoms an injection of cortisone into the joint can help to relive pain and restore movement of the joint.

Occupational therapy or physiotherapy consisting of specific targeted exercises and heat treatment can also help to alleviate symptoms and free up movement of the joint.

In severe cases once conservative measures have been exhausted, surgery such as a hip or knee replacement (hip or knee arthroplasty) may be recommended. The type of surgery will depend on the patient's age and the severity of the disease. Joint replacements in elderly patients with severe arthritis often have excellent results. For more information on Total Hip Replacement surgery please see Hip Arthroplasty. For more information on Total Knee Replacement please see Knee Arthroplasty. 


Ways to help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • During a pain episode rest the joint until the pain subsides. This helps to prevent further inflammation
  • To ease pain and stiffness of the joint, apply heat to the joint for about 15 minutes at a time once or twice a day using a hot water bottle or heat pack
  • Weight and diet is an important factor in the treatment of arthritis. Being overweight places increased pressure on joints and it is advised to try to reduce weight to reduce the load on weight-bearing joints
  • Participate in regular exercise. Exercise is very important in the treatment of arthritis as it increases lubrication of the joints and strengthens the surrounding muscles, which puts less stress on joints. 
  • Light exercise also helps those with arthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness and increasing flexibility as well as improving muscle strength and energy. It also helps with weight reduction and improved overall health.
  • Exercise in heated swimming pools and hydrotherapy can be effective in relieving pain and stiffness.