When osteoarthritis progresses to a point where you are having pain with activity involving the hip or knee, there are several things you can to do improve the joint function and help alleviate the pain. These include, first and foremost, working on weight maintenance or, if appropriate, losing weight. The amount of weight placed on an arthritic joint will influence how much discomfort you experience. Secondly, exercising in a low-impact manner to help build the muscles that help stabilize and move the joint can not only improve the function of an arthritic joint but also improve your cardiovascular fitness and thereby decrease the amount of discomfort you feel. Regular exercise will help increase substances in the brain called endorphins, which help to lower the response to pain. Many patients have found using supplements such as glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate useful in decreasing pain from an arthritic joint. While recent publications have called into question the effectiveness of these substances, many patients feel subjectively that they help. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, Aleve, and Motrin when taken in moderation, can also decrease some of the inflammation and pain associated with early to moderate osteoarthritis of weightbearing joints. When patients present for the first time with a diagnosis of early to moderate osteoarthritis of weightbearing joints such as the hip, knee, or ankle, we counsel them to:
- Lose weight.
- Exercise appropriately.
- Consider supplements.
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain medication.
These will often alleviate many of the early symptoms of this condition.