Osteoarthritis is a very common condition. It costs the Australian health care system more than $3.7 billion dollars a year!!
It affects 2 million Australians. That's a lot of people!
At the moment, there is no cure for osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is considered to be a ‘wear and tear’ arthritis and treatment is focussed on treating the symptoms more so than the changes on x-rays.
It’s important to note here that many people can have changes on their x-rays which show osteoarthritis, yet they have no symptoms of osteoarthritis, eg they have no pain, stiffness or loss of mobility.
Interestingly, I have seen people with truly awful arthritis on x-ray imaging with no pain! And on the other hand I have seen people with very little changes of osteoarthritis on imaging with very severe pain.
It’s also important to note that just because there are changes of osteoarthritis on x-ray imaging it doesn’t mean that symptoms of pain and stiffness are due to the arthritis!
This is why it’s important to see a Rheumatologist if you have pain in and around your joints as they are in the best position to give you a thorough assessment to see if your pain is due to your osteoarthritis, and what treatments you may best benefit from.
Your treatment of your arthritis symptoms will depend on:
Where it is and
What your symptoms are.
There is no medication to treat osteoarthritis and control the disease process like there is for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Treatment for osteoarthritis symptoms is tailored for each person and can include some of the following depending on the severity and location of the arthritis and the symptoms that it is causing:
Lifestyle modifications such as exercise, physiotherapy, and dietary changes
Supplements such as fish oil, turmeric or curcurmin
Joint replacement or other forms of surgery to limit pain and improve function
There is exploration into the application of stem cell therapy but there are as yet no large trials documenting its long term success
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections are being explored as a relieving therapy for large joint pains but are not a cure
Unfortunately, not all symptoms of osteoarthritis respond to treatment.
If you have or think you might have osteoarthritis, speak to your Rheumatologist to tailor a treatment regime that is right for the needs of your body.
There is no one blanket treatment for everyone's osteoarthritis symptoms and symptom treatment truly needs to be tailored with review, a thorough assessment of your symptoms, and discussion with your Rheumatologist to work out what will best support your body.