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Osteoarthritis (also called “Degenerative Joint Disease”) is the most common form of arthritis in adults over 50. It is not the same as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The exact cause is not known but may be related to excess “wear and tear” on the joint over a long period of time. Prior injury to that joint, or repeated stress on a joint can also cause this type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis most often affects the hands, knees, spine and hips (in that order). The most common symptoms are joint stiffness, pain and swelling.

Home Care:

  • When a joint is more sore than usual, rest that joint for a day or two.

  • Heat is very helpful. This can be provided by taking hot baths, applying a heating pad for up to 30 minutes at a time. Because symptoms are usually worse in the morning, many patients like to take a hot bath just after awakening to relax the muscle and soothe the joints.

  • Exercise is the most important part of home treatment for osteoarthritis. This prevents the muscles and ligaments around the joint from becoming weak and helps maintain the full range of joint motion. This limits further damage to the joint.

  • If you are overweight, this puts a lot of extra strain on weight-bearing joints of the lower back, hips, knees, feet and ankles. Losing weight will improve your arthritis symptoms in these joints. Talk to your doctor about a safe and effective weight loss program for yourself.

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) is often used to treat this condition. If this alone is not helping, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medicine. If opioid pain medicines have been prescribed, they should be used in addition to anti-inflammatory drugs and only for severe pain.

Follow Up

with your doctor as advised by our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Redness or swelling of a painful joint

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Worsening joint pain


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