What Is the Best and Safest Treatment for Osteoarthritis?

What Is the Best and Safest Treatment for Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis refers to the breaking down of the joint protective cartilage. Usually, sharp pain and a limited range of motion follow. So, most OA sufferers seek pain relief with various treatments. But which of them is the best?

Most of the time, the best treatment varies, depending on the affected joint. For example, most people suffering from knee arthritis find out that the only cure is knee replacement. Why? Because we use our knees constantly. So, removing and resurfacing the damaged bones with metal (and plastic surfaces acting as a cushion) is the most practical solution.

Non-Surgical Treatment of Osteoarthritis: How Safe Is It?

Reversing osteoarthritis is impossible, according to adrspine.com. But the specialists list four viable options: medications, injections, physical therapy, and surgery. Surgical treatments like joint replacement and fusion are the last resort, available for patients with an extensively damaged bone structure.

Most people want to manage and treat arthritis before choosing any surgical option. But OA is a complex condition. In fact, it can involve:

  • genetic factors
  • inflammation
  • traumas
  • wear and tear

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can, to a degree, limit some of the side effects. But it could be harmful without skilled supervision. An expert physical therapist is necessary throughout the treatment.

Some exercises and therapy can help you have less pain and more function. Again, results usually vary depending on which joint causes pain. Tight muscles can be more painful and lead to more discomfort. So, stretching them can help. Generally, low-impact exercise is safe and can limit arthritic symptoms.

NSAIDs (Anti-inflammatory Drugs)

Anti-inflammatory medications, coupled with dietary modifications, can help a lot. In any case, the ultimate goal is to achieve functional improvement while managing painful symptoms. And the potential (and serious) adverse reactions make them ideal as first-line treatment only. They are not the safest option in the long run.

Glucocorticoid Injection

Steroid injections provide good pain relief and functional improvement quickly. On the flip side, it is short-term pain relief. Also, this option can potentially damage the cartilage and joint even more. So, discussing it with your physician is highly recommended.

In general, having an injection or two is safe. And if this treatment can provide substantial long-term relief for a specific condition, the benefits outweigh the risk. What people should avoid is opting for an injection close to surgery. Mainly because a steroid injection can expose patients to a higher risk of infection.