Osteoarthritis tends to get worse over time as the cartilage wears away. The right treatment can help to take
control of the condition and keep the joints healthy for as long as possible.
A diversity of treatments, from professional treatments to conventional therapies, are available for those suffering from different levels of osteoarthritis, so choosing the right treatment without professional guidance can be confusing. Here are some information about different types of treatments and hopefully it can shed you some light.
The type of painkiller (analgesic) your doctor may prescribe will depend on the severity of your pain. The most common ones include paracetamol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, painkillers can only mask the pain rather than treat the condition. Also, taking painkillers for long term can cause unwanted side-effects e.g. gastrointestinal problems, peptic ulcers and even increasing risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Intra-articular injection
If your osteoarthritis is severe, treatment using painkillers may not be enough to control your pain. In this case, you may need intra-articular injection where medicine is injected into the affected joints. Corticosteroids or steroids are the common types of medicines injected directly into the joint space of a painful, inflamed arthritic joint. However, they are only helpful for short-term pain relief (weeks to months).
Joint replacement is a surgery to replace the ends of bones in a damaged joint and create new joint surfaces. Because there is a certain risk which lie under all kinds of surgery, this option will be suggested by doctors when the joints of their patients are severely damaged or very little cartilage is left in the joints.
- Conventional therapies
People who do not want to go under the blade may opt for conventional therapies such as acupuncture, massages. These therapies are considered to be safe with minimal side effects if practiced by professionals. Using hot or cold packs at home would also provide temporary pain relief.
- Nutritional supplements – Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM
A number of nutritional supplements are available for treating osteoarthritis. Two of the most common joint health supplements include glucosamine plus chondroitin. Glucosamine plus chondroitin work by supplying the natural raw ingredients cartilage needs to repair and rebuild itself.
They also suppress the natural enzymes that break down cartilage in the first place as in osteoarthritis. Glucosamine plus chondroitin supplements are safe to be taken for long term for enduring joint health benefits.
Some developed countries like the US, UK and even Australia have included MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) to their joint health supplement regime for the beneficial synergistic effect. MSM is a natural form of sulphur found in our living tissues. It strengthens the joint tissues and helps to reduce discomfort and pain caused by osteoarthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation of America recommends a dosage of 1500 mg glucosamine and 800-1200mg of chondroitin a day. For MSM, start with a low dosage of 500 mg twice a day and increasing gradually to 1,000 mg twice a day.
After starting glucosamine plus chondroitin and MSM, allow a reasonable amount of time to notice any benefits.