Management and treatment of osteoarthritis can involve non-pharmacological approaches, such as losing weight or moderate exercise, as well as physical therapy. Your large weight-bearing joints, such as your hips and knees, can benefit from these physical exercises and non-invasive therapies. Pharmacological treatments focus on reducing pain and inflammation.
Pain medications can only relieve your osteoarthritis pain temporarily.
A study published in the Arthritis Care and Research shows that patients with osteoarthritis (OA) prefer taking oral pain medications over trying non-drug alternatives. Over-the-counter pain medications may offer relief. However, pain medications can only relieve pain temporarily. Less than half of patients with
OA try physical therapy and other non-pharmacological options, such as exercising for weight loss. This is a concerning number because non-drug options are the number one treatment and pain management approach that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends.
So, No Drug or Drug
Your doctor may tell you to lose weight, and that is important. Though, it is not because of the weight itself, it’s the inflammation associated with fat cells that causes the problem. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) recommends patients with OA symptoms should prioritize non-drug therapies over drug therapies. The ACR strongly recommends these two nondrug therapies if you have OA.
Strong non-drug therapy recommendations:
• Weight loss Regular exercises on land or in water
• Regular exercises on land or in water
There are some secondary recommendations that you should try also.
Secondary non-drug therapies:
• Physical therapy and manual therapy
• Self-management classes/programs
• Tai chi
• Hot and cold packs
• Psychosocial therapies
• This is especially recommended for those experiencing severe pain from knee OA but are not eligible for joint replacements.
The ACR also suggests OA patients to not use pain medications. Even though they do not have any strong recommendations for the drug therapy option, they do have some secondary recommendations , if really needed, that you can use these medications to relieve pain and reduce your inflammation.
Strong drug-therapy recommendation: