If you suffer from osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee and have tried more common remedies such as weight loss, exercise, and over-the-counter medications, then consulting an orthopedic surgeon may be appropriate to see what treatment options are available. In moderate cases of osteoarthritis, prescription strength anti-inflammatory medications can relieve symptoms and improve function and motion. Prescribed by a physician, they often require monitoring at different intervals to ensure that no toxicity is associated with the medication. Physical therapy can be prescribed to specifically strengthen weakened muscles and improve motion and function, thereby restoring activity.If the above nonoperative measures fail to improve your symptoms, surgical procedures such as arthroscopy of the hip and knee can take care of mechanical impediments to motion and function. Procedures to realign malaligned joints, often referred to as osteotomies, can be useful to improve the alignment of the limb and thereby decrease the wear. Much like realigning the front end of a car decreases tire wear, the osteotomy can slow the progression of arthritis. In more severe cases of osteoarthritis where the articular surface is worn down and realignment procedures are not appropriate, joint replacement procedures such as total hip or knee replacement or partial knee replacement can be performed to resurface the wornout joint and thereby improve function. A wide variety of treatment options are available; if pain from an arthritic joint persists, you should consult with your physician.For patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis, several medications are available that can decrease the inflammatory component of the disease. These disease-remitting drugs can be prescribed by family physicians, internists, or rheumatologists. Injectable forms of disease-remitting agents are often prescribed and monitored by rheumatologists. They can have a dramatic effect on the amount of inflammation in a joint afflicted with an inflammatory type of arthritis. There are specific symptoms and, at times, blood tests are available that will determine whether or not you suffer from a type of inflammatory arthritis. When the changes from an inflammatory arthritis reach the point where the articular surface is destroyed and bone is rubbing against bone, then joint replacement surgery is extremely useful in resurfacing the wornout joint.
As you can see from the above discussion, a variety of stepwise approaches can be followed to treat arthritic joints. To determine where you are in this algorithm, consult your physician for evaluation of your arthritic joint.