Get Stronger. Aerobic activity, the kind that makes you sweat, isn’t the only sort of workout that helps OA symptoms. Strengthening exercises build muscles around OA-affected joints, easing the burden on those joints and reducing pain. Your doctor or health-care professional can suggest moves for you, or check out these easy moves.

Keep Weight in Check. Excess weight adds additional stress to weight-bearing, OA-affected joints like the hips, knees, feet and back, increasing pain. Obesity has been cited as a possible cause for developing OA in the knees. If you are overweight, you may not want to exercise because you don’t like the way you look or because you tire easily. But losing weight can help people with OA reduce pain and limit further joint damage. Speak to your doctor about a weight-management plan and healthy food choices.

Manage With Medications. Many prescription (only available from your doctor) or over-the-counter (available at your pharmacy or online) medicines treat OA symptoms. Common OA medications include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which target inflammation – a potential cause of pain and swelling), analgesics (which treat pain only), topical treatments (which are rubbed onto the skin in the affected area to temporarily ease pain or swelling), and injectable treatments, like hyaluronic acid therapy. Injectables are given by your arthritis doctor in the office, and aim to replace joint fluid depleted by OA.

Explore Surgery. Your arthritis doctor may also suggest surgery to repair or replace OA-damaged joints, especially hips or knees. If you are eligible for surgery, your doctor will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon to perform the procedure. After surgery, you must commit to rehabilitating the joint, maintaining a healthy weight and continuing to engage in physical activity. 

Investigate Alternatives. Many people with OA use natural or alternative therapies to address symptoms and improve their overall well-being. Nutritional supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate are available over the counter and purport to treat OA by restoring cartilage. Other alternative therapies used by some to treat OA include acupuncture, massage techniques, hydrotherapy, and external tools like copper bracelets. Scientific research on these methods does not show proven effects, so consult your doctor before purchasing or trying any treatment.

Grab Some Gadgets. People with OA may have painful, stiff joints that don’t perform as they should, making everyday tasks difficult. Items called assistive devices can help. These include supportive items like scooters, canes, splints, shoe orthotics or walkers, or helpful tools like jar openers or car steering wheel grips. Some tools and adapted products may be easier to use. Consider adaptive living techniques too, modifying the way you perform tasks to ease strain on joints. Your doctor, or physical or occupational therapist can help determine what is right for you.

Stay Positive. Managing OA symptoms is a lifelong task. It’s important to stay positive about your goals when you feel pain or stiffness. Think about the benefits of sticking with your stretching or physical activity routine, and how much better you will feel when your joints are more flexible and less painful. Focus on the good things in your life, like your family or hobbies, and how much more you’ll enjoy them when you’re managing your OA symptoms. You are not alone. Get in touch with others like you at local programs. Most of all, stick to your plan, and you will successfully manage your OA.