Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Osteoarthritis Treatment

Osteoarthritis is not a curable disease. However, its signs and symptoms can be managed with a variety of treatment options18. Your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of the following19:

  • Increasing your physical activity levels: Continuing to stay active and mobile will help ease the symptoms of OA, such as stiffness. It is important to find a balance in the intensity of your activity so that you do not overstress your joints.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles around your affected joints, increase your flexibility, and reduce your pain levels over time.
  • Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can help teach you methods to accomplish daily tasks without placing additional stress on your joints.
  • Weight loss: Your healthcare provider may suggest that you lose weight to help decrease the stress on your weight-bearing joints. This can be accomplished gradually through healthy eating and moderate exercise levels.
  • Heat/cold: Alternating between heating and cooling your affected joint may help relax your muscles and decrease your pain.
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit: This device has been known to provide short-term pain relief. It works by passing a low-voltage electrical current to the affected area(s) using small patches that attach to the body.
  • Acupuncture: Some people with osteoarthritis find acupuncture helpful in relieving their pain temporarily. It involves the insertion of very thin needles to pressure points on the body.
  • Support devices: Crutches, canes, and shoe inserts can help support movement and relieve stress on your joints.
  • Cortisone injections: Your healthcare provider may recommend or perform an injection of corticosteroid medication into the area around your joint, which can provide weeks to months of pain relief.
  • Lubrication injections: Using a similar method to the cortisone injection, your provider may recommend you have hyaluronic acid injected into the joint space to cushion the painful or affected area.
  • Bone realignment: This procedure may be performed when severe osteoarthritis has caused asymmetry in your posture or gait (walk). A surgeon can either add or remove bone to an area to rebalance the stress on a particular joint. A common location for this surgery to be performed is in the knee.
  • Joint replacement (arthroplasty): A surgeon can replace the damaged areas of your joints with plastic or metal. However, these procedures typically need to be performed more than once, as the replacement parts may wear out or shift out of place.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (generic Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (generic Aleve), have been known to help relieve joint pain in people with OA. Some people also find relief from acetaminophen (generic Tylenol Arthritis).

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe you a medication typically used to treat depression that has also been approved to treat chronic pain, such as duloxetine (generic Cymbalta).

Osteoarthritis medication

Your provider may prescribe the following medications for osteoarthritis:

May be prescribed

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Osteoarthritis diet

While osteoarthritis cannot be cured completely, the symptoms of this condition can be managed through physical therapy, medications prescribed by your healthcare provider, and dietary modifications20.

Some people with OA experience decreased inflammation and an improvement in symptoms while eating a Mediterranean diet, which focuses on healthy fats (olive oil and/or nuts), plenty of fruits (berries in particular) and vegetables, small amounts of certain fish, and whole grains.

Foods that are high in fiber, contain Omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, and magnesium have also been found to decrease inflammatory processes in the body and potentially slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.

Some foods21 are known to cause inflammation and/or contribute to weight gain (which can cause inflammation). For this reason, these foods are often avoided by people with osteoarthritis:

  • Red meat (beef, steak)
  • Processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • Soda and artificially sweetened beverages
  • Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta)
  • Fried foods
  • Margarine (butter substitute)

Anti-inflammatory foods¹², such as those emphasized in the Mediterranean diet, are known to reduce inflammation and may have long-term benefits for people with osteoarthritis:

  • Fruits (berries, cherries, oranges)
  • Nuts (almonds or walnuts)
  • Olive oil
  • Tomatoes
  • Certain types of fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens)

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.