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Managing your Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) without surgery

    Exercise   •    Physiotherapy   •    Weight Loss   •    Smoking   •    Pain Relief

Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects your joints, causing pain and stiffness. It's by far the most common form of joint disease, affecting people all over the world and at least 8 million people in the UK.

There are various ways of managing hip or knee arthritis without surgery, the two main goals being:
  • Reducing pain and
  • Increasing joint mobility
Many people find that self-help measures are enough to help them manage their symptoms, but your physiotherapist will be able to suggest other treatments if you need them. There isn't likely to be one single thing that will help reduce pain, or increase mobility, but by trying a variety of things that work for you improvements can be made.

Arthritis Care have produced a Living with Arthritis leaflet that contains comprehensive information about how to make daily living easier when you have OA.

Exercise is very important for osteoarthritis. You'll need to do both strengthening and aerobic exercise to help ease stiffness and reduce pain.
Hip Exercises
Knee Exercises

Physiotherapy is a low risk treatment that can really help build muscle tone and loosen muscle tightness around the joint. It's also a great form of "pre-hab" or pre-habilitation.

Weight Loss
Being overweight increases the strain on your joints - especially your knees. Being overweight not only increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis but also makes it more likely that your arthritis will get worse over time. Because of the way your joints work, the force put through your knees when you walk, especially on stairs and slopes, can be several times your actual body weight. Losing even a small amount of weight can make a big difference to the strain on your weight-bearing joints.

No special diet has been shown to help with osteoarthritis, but if you need to lose some weight we would recommend a balanced, reduced-calorie diet combined with regular exercise.
Stopping smoking will help your general health by improving your physical fitness and will help with things like wound healing and may increase your potential treatment options.

Pain relief
Your local pharmacist, physiotherapist or GP will be able to advise you of over the counter medicines and topical creams, or prescription medicines that are available.
If your arthritis becomes severe then your specialist may discuss with you the possibility of surgery, with a view to having the joint replaced, although this is usually considered only after all other suitable treatment possibilities have been explored. This includes all the areas mentioned above: exercise (and even sometimes periods of relative rest), painkillers, weight loss, walking aids and lifestyle changes.

Whilst surgery can be an effective way of managing very severe arthritis it does involve a major operation with associated risks which your physiotherapist or surgeon will discuss with you. Together you can make the decision whether surgery is the best option for you.