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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when cartilage (tissue that cushions a joint) wears away slowly and causes the bones to rub together. OA is a long-term condition that often affects the hands, neck, lower back, knees, and hips. OA is also called arthrosis or degenerative joint disease.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe pain.
- You cannot move your joint.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- Your joint is red and tender.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Acetaminophen is used to decrease pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Capsaicin cream may help decrease pain in your joint.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given to decrease severe pain if other medicines do not work. Take the medicine as directed. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Go to physical therapy as directed:
A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain in your joints. The exercises also help lower your risk for loss of function.
Manage your OA:
- Stay active. Physical activity may reduce your pain and improve your ability to do daily activities. Avoid activities that cause pain. Ask your healthcare provider what type of exercise would be best for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. This helps decrease the strain on the joints in your back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Use heat or ice on your joints as directed. Heat and ice help decrease pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. Use a heating pad on a low setting or take a warm bath. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel.
- Massage the muscles around the joint to relieve pain and stiffness.
- Use a cane, crutches, or a walker to protect and relieve pressure on your ankle, knee, and hip joints. You may also be prescribed shoe inserts to decrease pressure in your joints.
- Wear flat or low-heeled shoes. This will help decrease pain and reduce pressure on your ankle, knee, and hip joints.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.