In Part One, we took a look at some of the common symptoms and causes of osteoarthritis. In this instalment, we take a look at some of the common methods for managing osteoarthritis and its associated symptoms. While there’s currently no cure for osteoarthritis, methods of managing the condition are constantly improving.
The first steps
After diagnosis, your doctor should provide you with a treatment program, which is known as a GP Management Plan. This will encompass a variety of forms of treatment, including medication, education and physical therapy, among others. In severe cases, surgery may be considered, but this will usually be after a number of other options have been considered.
Diet and weight management
It’s not currently clear whether there is a link between diet and arthritis symptoms, but there is some evidence to indicate that omega-3 acids can be helpful for reducing inflammation and boosting the body’s immune system. These acids are found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, so if you don’t include much fish in your diet, it may be worth investing in fish oil supplements. Some people have also reported good results taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.
Regardless of your individual symptoms, eating healthily is always recommended, particularly when it comes to weight management. Obesity is a serious problem in Australia, and it can also be a key factor in worsening osteoarthritis symptoms. Additional weight places increased pressure on the bones, which in turn causes additional pain. So if you’re overweight and have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you may need to speak to a dietician to develop an effective eating plan.
Medication and pain management
For many people, medication is an essential part of managing their osteoarthritis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and paracetamol can both be extremely helpful in reducing pain levels to a manageable level. Additionally, newer mindfulness-based therapies are now often used for pain management, such as cognitive behavioural therapy. As osteoarthritis is a persistent condition, pain management is an ongoing process, and will likely need to be periodically re-assessed from time to time, depending on your symptoms.
Each person experiences pain in a relative fashion – what is only a mild inconvenience for some people will be debilitating for others. As a result, it’s important to have your pain properly assessed, and your doctor may refer you to a pain specialist to discuss the best treatment options for you.
In Part 3, we take a look at the benefits of exercise for managing osteoarthritis. Visit Panadol’s website for more information on Panadol Osteo – specially formulated to help provide long-lasting relief from persistent pain.