Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that takes its toll on the joints as cartilage wears away and is not replaced. It is also a very painful condition that affects tens of millions in the U.S. alone. It is the most common form of arthritis and is especially prevalent among seniors. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, here is a question: should you live with it or try to treat it?
Certain treatments for osteoarthritis have been around for decades. They include options like steroid injections and joint replacement. Other therapies are comparatively new. They include things like stem cell therapy and PRP injections. Do they all work? Yes and no.
Different Treatments for Different Patients
We cannot really say that any single treatment works best. Nor can we say that any one treatment works for every patient. That is just the nature of medicine. We have different treatments because patients are equally different. What works for one does not necessarily work for another.
The key to alleviating osteoarthritis pain is working with your doctor to figure out what treatments are best for you. On the other hand, you could just live with the pain. But living with it inevitably means it is going to get worse. There may come a time when you just cannot take the pain any longer.
Remember that osteoarthritis is progressive by nature. Doing nothing will not help you feel better.
Traditional Osteoarthritis Treatments
With that in mind, let us talk about the different options. We will start with the traditional options that seek to address the symptoms of osteoarthritis. First is pain medication.
Pain medication absolutely can alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms. For most patients it is a matter of understanding what medications they are taking and what the long-term effects might be. Some people do not do pharmacological treatments because they are not all that fond of their prescription medications.
Next are steroid injections. These address the pain of osteoarthritis for a time. However, they do wear off. That means subsequent injections for the rest of the patient’s life.
Finally, traditional treatments include artificial lubricants and joint replacement surgery. Artificial lubricants are a lot like steroid injections in that they are only temporary. Replacement surgery is permanent in theory, but the average artificial joint has a lifespan of only 15 and 20 years.
Non-traditional Osteoarthritis Treatments
Some doctors are starting to turn toward non-traditional treatments for osteoarthritis. There are three such treatments that get most of the attention, according to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute. These are as follows
- Prolotherapy – A treatment that involves injecting the affected joint with a solution that promotes inflammation. The idea is to use the inflammation to jump-start the healing process in hopes that the body will gradually take care of the problem naturally.
- PRP Therapy – A treatment that involves injecting platelet-rich plasma and its associated growth factors in hopes of regenerating lost and damaged tissue.
- Stem Cell Therapy – A treatment that involves harvesting patient fat tissue, processing it in a centrifuge, and then injecting the resulting stem cell material into the affected joint. Like the other two therapies, the goal here is to encourage the body to heal itself.
Like traditional treatments, non-traditional treatments work for some but not others. They are worth looking into if traditional treatments have failed or you are not interested in those other treatments for whatever reason.
Should you live with osteoarthritis or try to treat it? That’s up to you. But not treating it means that it will, in all likelihood, only get worse over time.