Treatment for arthritis depends on the underlying cause. The goal is to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and preserve movement in the joint. Some forms of arthritis, such as septic arthritis, gout, and pseudogout, can be cured or controlled with medication. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but medications, physical therapy, and exercise can help slow the progression of the illness and preserve function. Severe joint damage from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis may require surgery to replace the joint.
Treatment for arthritis may include:
- Warm compresses
- Exercises for arthritis
- Stretching for arthritis
- Weight loss
- Acetaminophen for pain
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, NeoProfen)
- Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Oruvail)
- Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, Aleve)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Narcotic pain medication:
- For moderate to severe pain
- For short term use only
- Oral corticosteroid medications for arthritis:
- Corticosteroid injections for arthritis
- Joint replacement surgery for arthritis
- For severely damaged joints
For more information:
Arthritis Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of arthritis.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Do I need to lose weight?
- Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- Do I need a special exercise program?
- Will I need physical therapy?
- Will I need occupational therapy?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for arthritis?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat arthritis:
Continue to Arthritis Home Care
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- Leirisalo-Repo M. Early arthritis and infection. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2005 Jul;17(4):433-9. 
- Oliver S, Hill J. Arthritis in the older person: part 1. Nurs Older People. 2005 Jun;17(4):25-9. 
- Quinn MA, Emery P. Are early arthritis clinics necessary? Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2005 Feb;19(1):1-17.