Strategies to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis include weight loss, use of assistive devices, exercise, and the application of heat and cold to affected joints, says Mayo Clinic. Weight loss helps relieve stress on joints that bear weight such as hips or knees. Assistive devices also relieve pressure on damaged joints, and include canes and similar devices. Exercise of the muscles around an affected joint can help stabilize it, but should not cause new pain in the joint itself.
When lifestyle strategies and the use of devices are not sufficient to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, other treatments are available, says Mayo Clinic. These treatments can include medications, specialized therapies and, in severe cases, surgery. Medications include pain relief creams and oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Special therapies include occupational therapy, chronic pain classes and physical therapy. They can also include special joint braces or shoe inserts that immobilize or give support to particular joints.
Doctors use surgical treatments for osteoarthritis when more conservative therapies and lifestyle strategies do not help, explains Mayo Clinic. Cortisone shots directly into the joint can reduce pain, but if applied too often can cause further damage to the joint. Osteotomy is a surgical procedure where doctors cut away a piece of bone to move stress to a less damaged part of a joint, while joint replacement replaces the joint entirely with plastic or metal parts.