Skip to navigation Skip to content
Sulis hospital bath banner

Osteoarthritis treatment

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that causes pain and stiffness. While it's often associated with ageing, it can affect people of all ages. On this page, we'll provide you with an overview of osteoarthritis, its symptoms, diagnosis, and various treatment options.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a condition characterised by the gradual wear and tear of your joints. Normally, your joints have a protective cushion called cartilage, which prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. Over time, this cartilage can wear away, leading to joint pain, stiffness, and in some cases, swelling.

Recognising the Symptoms

The most common signs of osteoarthritis are joint pain and stiffness. It can affect various joints, such as the knees, hips, neck, back, hands, and feet. These symptoms can make everyday activities challenging. Stiffness is usually at its worst in the mornings and eases after about 30 minutes.

Osteoarthritis in different joints

Knees: Often, both knees are affected. Pain may worsen when walking, especially on inclines and stairs. You might hear a soft, grating sound when moving your knees.

Hip osteoarthritis can make simple tasks like putting on shoes difficult. Pain may occur in the outer hip and groin area and can be present both during movement and at rest.

Hand osteoarthritis typically affects the base of the thumb, joints near the fingertips, and the middle finger joints. This can lead to painful, swollen fingers and deformities.

Osteoarthritis can affect various foot joints, often targeting the big toe. This may result in additional problems like bunions, corns, and calluses.

Other possible symptoms of osteoarthritis
  • A grinding or creaking sensation in the joints
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain in different areas
  • Limited joint movement
  • Occasional joint swelling (not red or warm to the touch)

If you experience persistent joint problems that affect your daily life or well-being, it's advisable to speak to a specialist.

Osteoarthritis is often referred to as a "wear and tear" disease because it results from the gradual breakdown of joint cartilage. However, several factors can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis, including age, family history, gender, obesity, and previous joint injuries.

Osteoarthritis affects millions of people in the UK. There are two main types:

Primary osteoarthritis: This type typically develops in healthy joints, often in people aged 50 or over. It's generally mild but can cause significant disability in some cases, especially if both knees or hips are affected.

Secondary osteoarthritis: This form occurs in joints previously affected by injury, damage, or deformity, and it can affect younger individuals.

While there's no cure for osteoarthritis, several treatments can help manage the condition and improve your quality of life. These treatments aim to:

  • Educate you about managing your condition
  • Maintain or enhance joint mobility
  • Limit disability
  • Reduce joint damage
  • Alleviate pain and stiffness

These treatments vary based on the severity of your condition and the joints affected. Here are some common approaches:

  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Painkillers
  • Capsaicin cream
  • Steroid injections
  • Supportive treatments
  • Manual therapy
  • Surgery is not commonly required to manage joint conditions, but it can be a valuable option for individuals experiencing severe symptoms, especially those with advanced rheumatoid arthritis. In cases where joint damage is extensive, joint replacement surgery may be recommended as an effective solution. This procedure involves replacing the damaged joint with an artificial implant, aiming to restore pain-free movement and improve your quality of life.

If your consultant rheumatologist determines that joint replacement surgery is an appropriate treatment for your condition, they will refer you to an experienced orthopaedic surgeon at Sulis Hospital. Rest assured, the decision to undergo surgery is made with your well-being in mind, and it is aimed at providing you with relief and enhanced joint function.

Living with Osteoarthritis involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adhering to prescribed medications. Regular consultations with your specialist healthcare team are essential to monitor your condition.

Treatment Overview

Combining a calming hospital environment with outstanding patient care so you can recover as quickly as possible.

  • Covered by health insurance? Yes

  • Can I pay privately? Yes

You’re in safe hands at Sulis Hospital.

Enquire now

Talk to the experts

Fast track your treatment

We are here to answer any questions you might have and can also provide guide prices. Simply fill in your details below.

We would like to provide you with marketing information about products and services offered by Sulis Hospital Bath and by selected third-party partners. If you do not consent for us to process your personal data for marketing activities, we will still be able to contact you about your enquiry.

Please tick the box(es) to confirm your consent to receive marketing information from the Sulis Hospital Bath:

Marketing information

We will use your personal information to process your enquiry and contact you with relevant information. For further information, please see our website privacy policy.