The goal of osteoarthritis (OA) patient education is to give a person the information they need to optimize their quality of life. It can help with reducing pain and increasing function.
OA patient education is wide-ranging. It
This article discusses the goals and interventions of OA patient education, as well as how patient education affects outcomes. It also offers a list of resources.
OA can reduce a person’s functioning and can cause disability. It
Patient education for OA may cover:
- possible OA complications
- weight management
- nondrug therapies
- joint protection
Teaching people about the potential complications of OA has several benefits. It can make them aware of signs that they may need medical treatment, and it can serve as motivation to engage in self-care that may reduce their risk.
OA can cause muscle weakness around a joint and may interfere with exercising. This can mean a person loses strength and function and that falls become more likely.
Exercise is also part of weight management. If a person has difficulty with exercise, it may prevent them from reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Overweight can increase the risk of other conditions, including:
However, there are ways that people with OA can exercise, which is the next aspect of patient education.
Physical activity is a key part of OA treatment. Experts recommend that all adults get 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week, whenever possible. This should include the following:
- balance exercises, which strengthen small muscles around painful joints and help prevent falls
- range-of-motion exercises or stretching to keep joints moving and decrease stiffness
- strengthening exercises that target muscles surrounding affected joints
- aerobic exercise to increase energy and stamina
If a person with OA has overweight or obesity, reaching a moderate weight can help reduce symptoms. Weight changes can decrease stress on weight bearing joints such as the knees and hips. Losing even a relatively small amount of weight, such as
- plenty of fruits and vegetables, which can be fresh, frozen, or canned
- whole grains such as oats and barley
- low fat dairy such as skim milk
- lean proteins such as fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and soy products
- healthy fats from olive oil, avocado oil, oily fish, nuts, or seeds
- few or no foods high in saturated fat or added sugar
For weight loss, a person needs to consume fewer calories than their body needs, so they are at a calorie deficit.
The following therapies
- cold therapy, which may reduce inflammation and numb the area
- heat therapy, which can increase blood flow and pain tolerance
- shoe inserts, which may help reduce pressure on joints in the foot or leg
- assistive devices that reduce strain on joints, such as jar openers and larger cutlery
Some complementary medicine approaches may also help. Acupuncture may relieve pain for some, and massage may boost blood flow.
Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for OA. A person can talk with their doctor to learn about medications that may work for them.
Medication options may include:
- counterirritants such as capsaicin and menthol creams, which are topical products that produce heat or cold sensations
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin)
- corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone (Depo-medrol), which reduce inflammation
- injections to lubricate the knees
Because joint injuries
Other measures to protect joints from injury include:
- avoiding repetitive motions
- wearing protective equipment when participating in sports
- maintaining good form during exercises
- wearing seatbelts to reduce the risk of injury from a motor vehicle accident
The use of adaptive equipment, such as a cane or a raised toilet seat, may also protect against falls or injuries.
Finding ways to relax can help reduce the stress of managing a chronic condition and may improve quality of life. People may find it helpful to:
- try practicing meditation or mindfulness
- spend time in nature
- spend time with family and friends
- engage in fun activities
According to a
Additionally, when medical professionals used other interventions such as exercise and manual therapy, patient education boosted the effects of these therapies.
Below are some resources people can use for OA patient education:
Osteoarthritis patient education involves familiarizing a person with the potential complications of the condition and the steps they can take to prevent or slow its progression.
Depending on the person, this may involve exercise, weight management, joint protection, and drug or nondrug treatments.