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Treatment Goals for Osteoarthritis

4 Main Treatment Goals


Updated August 02, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Many people with osteoarthritis are frustrated because there is no cure for the disease. They feel treatment is a dead-end. Learning to live with pain and physical limitation is difficult.

There are treatment options for osteoarthritis. While it's important to understand your options and discuss your treatment plan with your doctor, it's also essential to understand the goals of osteoarthritis treatment.

4 Treatment Goals for Osteoarthritis

Control Pain

Joint pain is the primary symptom associated with osteoarthritis. Any joint can be affected by the disease. Recognizing early symptoms and getting appropriate treatment helps to control them.

Joint pain that is aggravated by activity and relieved by rest is suggestive of osteoarthritis. If the joint pain persists, you should consult with your doctor.

Improve Joint Function and Mobility

A joint is the juncture where two or more bones come together for the purpose of movement. Contraction of muscles crossing the joint cause it to move. Normal joint function is defined as a joint's ability to move throughout its range of motion, bear weight, and perform work.

Osteoarthritis pain and other symptoms can interfere with normal joint function. Treatment is aimed at improving range of motion and your ability to perform usual daily activities.

Maintain Ideal Body Weight

Overweight people are at high risk for developing osteoarthritis, especially knee osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that overweight women have 4 times the risk and overweight men have 5 times the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis when compared to people who are normal body weight. Maintaining your ideal body weight cuts your risk of developing osteoarthritis and may improve symptoms if you already have it.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy habits blossom into a healthy lifestyle. Your health will improve if you participate in regular exercise, weight control, stress management, rest, smoking cessation, and pain management. You must get better sleep.


NIAMS. Handout on Health. Osteoarthritis. May 2006.

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