Arthritis treatment begins with therapies that can be helpful with the least risk of harm first. More invasive treatments, injections and surgery, may help if nonsurgical approaches no longer work.
Medications: The first step is usually an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or an analgesic such as acetaminophen as an over-the-counter or prescription medication. Many patients have already started taking one of these medications before seeing an orthopaedic surgeon.
Exercises/physical therapy: The second step is a strengthening program designed to help protect your injured joint. Usually, a physical therapist will guide you through this program. But some patients can work on this on their own after an initial visit or two.
Weight loss: Weight has a major impact on the processes that age or damage your joints. Weight loss is an important part of improving pain as well as improving joint replacement outcomes.
Invasive nonsurgical treatment
Joint injections: Medications can be placed directly into your knee or hip joint. The decision to recommend a specific type of injection is based on a combination of your age, activity and severity of arthritis. Steroid medications are most comon, as they are cheaper and most likely to work at first. Some patients benefit from injections and request that the treatment be repeated rather than undergoing hip replacement surgery. There is some potential for increased infection risk for patients who have multiple injections. Patients with severe arthritis and a limited pain relief from injections may consider hip replacement rather than trying additional injections.
Other substances have been used to treat arthritis, particularly for patients who are younger or who have less advanced arthritis. These injection approaches may include the use of a biologic agent called platelet rich plasma (PRP).