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EDUCATION CENTER: Patient Actions

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Osteoarthritis

Patient Actions

Immediate Action
  • RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
  • If there is no warmth or swelling, you may use heat to relieve the pain. (Two to three times a day for 20 minutes each time is ideal.) Hot soaks, heat lamps, or whirlpool treatments may help. You can also try heating pads, deep-heating ointments, or swimming in a heated pool.
  • If the spine is affected, sleep on a very firm mattress.
  • Rest only when joints are very painful.
  • Remain active to keep muscle strength from diminishing. If you work up to a well-designed exercise program, you can keep or even improve joint flexibility.
  • Avoid throwing, swinging or overhead motions that may aggravate the condition.
  • Keep doing as much of your normal routine as possible.
  • Take aspirin or an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen if needed.

    See Your Doctor If:
    You have joint pain, swelling or stiffness; you can’t move a joint as well as you used to; your joints are red or warm; you have joint pain and suddenly lose weight, lose strength, or have a fever; the shoulder seems to “catch” or to give way; other unexplained symptoms develop.

    See Your Doctor To:
    Design an exercise program for you; get physical therapy (in severe cases only); consider whether surgery is necessary.

    Last updated: May-16-07

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