According to WebMD, osteoarthritis is treated by relieving its symptoms and improving function. The disease cannot be cured or reversed, but it can be slowed down, and the pain and discomfort can be relieved. Specific actions that can be taken to manage the disease include regularly resting the joints, applying occupational and physical therapy, exercising, adopting a healthy diet and using painkillers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, osteoarthritis is a disease of the whole joint involving the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments and underlying bone. These tissues break down, leading to pain and stiffness in and around the joint. There is a progressive loss of the joint cartilage and of the underlying bony structure. The joint space narrows, and the bone tissue starts to erode. What causes these changes is not known.
WebMD states that osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and that it is more prevalent and severe in people who are overweight. In these people, losing weight is the first step in relieving the pressure and damage to the joints.
Occupational and physical therapy can be used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis, says WebMD. This incorporates educating and training the patient to adopt healthier ways to protect the joints. The patient is trained in how to use stronger joints and muscles to spare weaker ones, how to avoid positions that strain joints, and how to use braces to protect joints. The use of heating or cold packs can also be introduced as ways to relieve pain and stiffness in the joints.