Nondrug and Surgical Options for Osteoarthritis

Non-Drug Methods of Pain Relief

For temporary relief of pain from osteoarthritis, you can use warm towels, hot packs, or a warm bath or shower. In some cases, cold packs, such as a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, can relieve pain or numb the sore area.
A doctor or physical therapist can help you determine if heat or cold is the best osteoarthritis treatment for you. For knee osteoarthritis, wearing insoles or cushioned shoes may reduce joint stress.
Other arthritis pain-relief options may include:
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Water therapy
  • Massage.
It is also important to protect and support the affected joint or joints. Some people use canes and splints to protect and to take pressure off the joints. Splints or braces can be used to provide extra support for weakened joints.

Is Surgery Used to Treat Osteoarthritis?

For some people, surgery helps relieve the pain and disability of osteoarthritis. A doctor may perform surgery to smooth out, fuse, or reposition bones or to replace joints.
The decision to have an operation depends on several factors. Both the surgeon and the patient should consider the person's lifestyle, age, and occupation -- as well as the person's level of disability and the intensity of the pain. Today, more than 80 percent of surgeries for osteoarthritis involve replacing the hip or knee joint. These surgeries are known as hip replacement surgery (total hip replacement) and knee replacement surgery (total knee replacement).
(Click Hip Replacement or Knee Replacement for more detailed information on each of these surgeries.)
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Osteoarthritis Information

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