Arthritis Treatments

Arthritis Treatments

At El Camino Hospital, our orthopedic team provides expert diagnosis and the latest treatment options for arthritis.
The arthritis specialists at El Camino Hospital offer many treatment options to help relieve joint pain and stiffness, improve your ability to function and limit the damage caused by arthritis

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, including:
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects more than 27 million Americans. Osteoarthritis breaks down the protective cartilage between your joints and bones. Without this cushion, there’s more wear and tear on your joints. This results in swelling and damage to bones, joints and tissues.

Treatment

To determine treatment options, our arthritis experts will consider your level of pain, which joints are affected and the damage involved, along with personal factors such as your lifestyle and level of activity. Most treatment plans include a combination of exercise, weight control, joint protection, physical and occupational therapy, and medications. In some instances, your doctor may recommend surgery.
 

Non-medical Treatments

Weight control and low-impact exercise are among the best options to ease osteoarthritis symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce stress on the joints, while exercise can reduce pain and improve strength and flexibility. Avoid high-impact exercise, such as jogging, and opt for low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga and walking on flat surfaces.
 

Medications

To relieve pain and swelling, your doctor may use oral medications such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or analgesic creams that are applied directly to the painful joint. Your doctor may also use corticosteroid injections to relieve symptoms. For knee osteoarthritis, your doctor may recommend injections of hyaluronic acid, a substance found in the body that makes joint fluid thick and sticky, to improve joint mobility.
 

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Physical therapy can help you strengthen your muscles and boost your flexibility and mobility. Your physical therapist will develop an exercise program for you and teach you pain management techniques. Occupational therapy can help you learn how to perform everyday tasks while limiting stress on your joints. Our specialists can also recommend certain equipment to assist you with these tasks.
 

Alternative Treatments

In some cases, complementary therapies such as dietary supplements (including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), chiropractic care and acupuncture can provide relief from symptoms. Talk to your doctor about whether these alternative options are appropriate for you. 
 

Surgery

If you have severe joint damage, significant pain or extremely impaired mobility, certain surgical procedures may help. Available options include:
  • Arthroscopic surgery. Using tiny instruments and a high-definition camera connected to a monitor, your surgeon can examine the inside of your joint. The surgeon can also take tissue samples, remove loose cartilage, repair tears, smooth a rough surface and remove diseased synovial tissue (most often used in knee and shoulder surgery). In some cases, arthroscopic hip surgery can help avoid or delay the need for a more extensive surgery, such as hip replacement.
  • Osteotomy. This surgery can be an alternative to partial or total knee or hip joint replacement when just one side of a joint is damaged. The surgeon cuts and reshapes the bone. This can improve stability and relieve stress and pressure on the affected area by redistributing the weight on your joint. People with hip or knee osteoarthritis in only one joint or who are too young for a joint replacement may benefit most from this procedure. 
  • Joint fusion. During this procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged joint and fuses the two bones on each side of the joint. This is done more often in areas where joint replacement isn’t effective. Specialists at El Camino Hospital have advanced expertise in spinal fusion.
  • Joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty). If your mobility is severely limited, replacing the joint may help. This typically involves removing the damaged joint, relining of the ends of bones and replacing the old joint with a new artificial joint. Knee and hip joints are most commonly replaced, but artificial joints are also available to replace shoulders, elbows, fingers and ankles.

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