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Information for Patients & Caregivers

Treatment

Medication

Medications are important in the treatment of arthritis. They help relieve joint swelling and pain, which can lead to improvement in everyday function and quality of life. All medications have potential side effects therefore should be taken only when necessary.

Pain relievers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help control swelling and pain. It is important to consult your doctor before taking medication for joint pain.

Your doctor may prescribe injections into your joints to help reduce swelling and pain.  Cortisone injections directly into joints may be used. Cortisone is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal gland that regulates inflammation, and when injected into a joint can relieve or reduce both swelling and pain. Cortisone may have some negative effects on both joints and soft tissues therefore its use is normally limited to a few injections per year.

Hyaluronate injections have been approved for arthritis of the knee. They may help relieve osteoarthritis pain and restore joint function. Hyaluronate is a naturally occurring substance in joint fluid that provides lubrication and cushioning to the joint. As osteoarthritis continues to develop, the joint fluid becomes thinner with less hyaluronate and thus loses its ability to properly lubricate and cushion the joint cartilage. Your doctor will be able to advise you if this this particular treatment option would be appropriate for you.

Exercise

There are a number of non-surgical treatments for osteoarthrisis. Moderate, doctor prescribed exercise and physical therapy are excellent ways to keep your joints moving and to help relieve moderate joint pain. Joints that are not regularly exercised can become tight and painful.

Excess body weight places extreme pressure on the joints. If you are overweight, your doctor may recommend weight loss to help relieve unwanted stress and pain in your joints.

Assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, can help reduce the pressure placed on joints and alleviate some pain. Resting after activity can also help control moderate joint pain.

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Joint Replacement

Your surgeon may recommend joint replacement surgery if you have significant arthritis.
The technique of joint replacement uses implants to replace the damaged sections of bone and cartilage in the joint. The purpose of the procedure is to restore function and mobility and to provide relief from joint pain.

The most common reason joints are replaced is arthritis, which is the diagnosis in 90% of patients receiving a new joint. However, patients may be candidates for joint replacement if they suffer from, avascular necrosis, post-traumatic arthritis, or Paget’s Disease.

Joint replacement implants to resurface the joint are typically made from metal alloy and polyethylene (plastic). The implants are designed to restore function and eliminate as much discomfort as possible while allowing you to return to a more active lifestyle.

Rehabilitation and walking begin the day after surgery, and the hospital stay is normally 7 to 9 days. Physiotherapy will begin in the hospital and usually continues after discharge although this will depend on the necessary level of post operative care required.

Joint Replacement surgery has been extremely successful in helping patients with arthritis return to their normal activities and relieve their discomfort.