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Degenerative joint disease care (Osteoarthritis)

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Though degenerative joint disease (also known as osteoarthritis) cannot be cured, there are treatment options that can be used to control the disease. These include medication, therapy, lifestyle changes and surgery.

Medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Tylenol) often help with osteoarthritis pain and discomfort. If pain continues, your physician may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Lifestyle Changes

An active lifestyle and exercise helps maintain joint health and overall movement. Talk with your doctor about an appropriate home exercise routine. Water exercises are especially helpful and are less stressful on your joints.  Other lifestyle choices include a healthy diet, getting enough rest, maintaining a healthy weight and protecting your joints. Joint protection can be achieved by wearing braces and supports, avoiding strenuous labor or activity and being aware of joint strain. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often a useful method for joint pain and discomfort.  A six to eight week regimen can be a good starting point to gauge whether or not therapy will bring about positive results. 

Surgery

Severe cases of degenerative joint disease may require surgery to replace or repair damaged joints. Surgical options include athroscopic surgery to trim torn and damaged cartilage, changing bone alignment to relive stress to a particular area or joint, surgically fusing bones (including the spine) and total or partial joint replacement. This surgery is commonly used for a knee replacement, hip replacement, shoulder replacement, ankle replacement or elbow replacement.