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Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis: What is it, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors and More | Singapore General Hospital

Osteoarthritis - Treatments

Osteoarthritis Singapore General Hospital

There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis. Hence, sustained and increasing research is necessary. Treatment of osteoarthritis focus on alleviating its symptoms, regaining lost muscle strength and surgery.

  • Physiotherapy

Exercise is needed to build up the strength in the surrounding muscles so that they can hold up the joint better, lessening the stress and strain that is exerted on the joint. It is a wrong concept that exercises worsen osteoarthritis, because it may only happen in very strenuous intensity of physical activities like the athletics. In contrary, sanitary lifestyle weaken the muscles around the joints that make the joints more vulnerable. Physiotherapists are the best exercise coaches, who assess condition of the muscle and joints and teach / prescribe the appropriate exercise regimen (as if doctors prescribe the appropriate medicine). Exercise is the most effective strategy to relieve pain for patients who have osteoarthritis. Apart from having a good coach, the key to success is discipline and perseverance.

Exercises such as swimming is the most gentle and recommended for most forms of arthritis. Land base exercises like cycling, brisk walking, and slow jogging are also helpful. Exercises that focus on strengthening of muscle around the joints is advised. Please consult your physiotherapist for the exercise regimen that suits you most.

  • Medication

Sometimes, medicine is useful to relieve joint pain, especially during bad days. Cream, balms, ointment and plasters are very safe and helpful options. Paracetamol (Panadol) can be prescribed for low level pain, while stronger drugs like non-steroidal anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and COX-2 inhibitors may be necessary for more severe pain. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may relieve pain for some patients, but do not protect wearing of cartilages. Speak to your doctor first before you try these medicines.

  • Injection of medicine into the joints

Lubricant injections into joints can relieve pain for short terms for some patients. The effect of lubricant injections usually do not last more than 5 months. It is more useful for younger patients who need a temporary relieve of pain in order to achieve an increased exercise demand in short term. Steroid injection into joint can also relieve pain, but the effect is usually shorter lasting. Repeated steroid injection into joints or repeated removal of fluid from joints is not recommended as a choice of treatment. Every injection into joints carries small risk of joint infection.

  • SurgeryOsteoarthritis Surgery

For a minority of patients, surgery may be required to remove bone fragments, realign the joints, or even replace the joint with an artificial part. Joint replacement surgery should be considered when the pain is severe, for those who need long term use of pain killers, and when the joint pain is affecting his / her mobility. Not everybody needs a joint replacement surgery. Speak to your doctor for risk and benefit, and to decide for the most appropriate timing for joint replacement surgery.

Osteoarthritis - Preparing for surgery

Osteoarthritis - Post-surgery care

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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