Depending on the severity of damage to the joints from osteoarthritis, there are conservative, non-surgical options that can relieve pain. These include oral anti-inflammatory medications, topical creams, and nutritional supplements.
Injections can also be helpful – cortisone reduces inflammation and joint lubricants such as hyaluronate relieve pain and restore function by providing lubrication in the joint.
Physical therapy and exercise are also extremely beneficial. Physical therapy can help you improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Movement of the joint can rejuvenate cartilage. Exercise and losing weight will help relieve extra stress on the joints.
Ice and heat therapy can also help. Ice decreases swelling and pain while heat increases circulation and helps relax muscles, decreasing muscle and joint aches.
Braces can be used to reduce painful instability and splints allow joints to rest during painful episodes. When conservative treatment options fail to provide relief, surgery is another option to restore function to the damaged joint and relieve pain.