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Treating osteoarthritis without surgery

July 9, 2012

As millions of older adults look to stay active in retirement, many of them have opted to have joint replacement surgery to help reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis. While surgery is certainly a suitable option, others may want to avoid going under the knife for as long as possible. For them, there are some options available that may help make living with osteoarthritis a little easier, The New York Times reports.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the condition, with around 27 million Americans reporting some limitations due to the associated pain. Experts say one of the best ways to reduce the discomfort and enjoy senior living is to stay at a healthy weight. Weighing too much can put excess pressure on joints and bones, which will make the pain much greater. In fact, scientists have found that weight loss combined with a targeted exercise approach can substantially reduce knee pain.

"I can't stress enough how important body weight is," Dr. Glen Johnson told the Times. "With our national crisis of obesity, we'll see more and more arthritis of the knees, ankles, hips and spine."

Exercise may seem like the last thing arthritis patients would want to do, but the right activities can make a big difference. For instance, exercises that strengthen the large quadricep muscles in the front of the legs, such as squats or leg presses, can help restore range of motion. Additionally, aerobic exercises such as swimming or stationary cycling can help keep the pounds off while limiting wear and tear on joints, says the Mayo Clinic.

Though lifestyle changes are large part of reducing osteoarthritis pain and avoiding the operating table, something as simple as wearing the right shoes can make a difference. The proper footwear based on how a person walks, and whether they have flat feet or raised arches, could make getting around less painful, according to the Times.

Certain nutrients can also reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients. According to, vitamin C has shown promise in limiting the spread of osteoarthritis. Specifically, the nutrient may help curb cartilage loss associated with the condition. Furthermore, older adults who are not getting enough vitamin D may be making their osteoarthritis symptoms worse.