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Osteoarthritis is also called arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Normally, there is cartilage covering the bone ends of each joint. Cartilage is a tissue that cushions the joint when it moves. In osteoarthritis, cartilage slowly wears away and the bones rub together. Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition and often affects the hands, neck, lower back, knees, and hips.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Joint pain and stiffness may get worse over time. You may have trouble doing your daily activities. If your pain is severe, you may need surgery to remove the damaged joint cartilage. Your entire joint may need to be fused together or replaced. Without treatment, osteoarthritis can cause severe pain and disability. You may not be able to use your joint at all.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

Physical therapy:

You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Joint x-ray: This is a picture of the bones and tissues in your joints. Joints are the places in your body where two bones meet. You may be given dye as a shot into your joint before the x-ray. This dye will help your joint show up better on the x-ray. A joint x-ray with dye is called an arthrogram.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This test is also called an MRI. During the MRI, pictures are taken of your joints. You will need to lie still during an MRI. Never enter the MRI room with any metal objects. This can cause serious injury. Tell your caregiver if you have any metal implants in your body.

Treatment options:

You may need surgery if other treatments are no longer effective. Following are some of the types of surgery that may help arthritic joints:

  • Debridement: This is surgery to remove the diseased or damaged joint cartilage.
  • Joint fusion: This prevents joint movement by joining the bone ends of a joint.
  • Osteotomy: This is surgery where the bones are cut to put the misshapen joints back in line.
  • Total joint replacement: This is surgery to take out all or part of the joint and put in a man-made joint replacement.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Osteoarthritis (Inpatient Care)

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