There is no known cure for either type of arthritis, however new research into the reasons behind arthritis is bringing hope and relief to many arthritis sufferers. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more women than men and involves both sides of the body while osteoarthritis involves only one side. With rheumatoid arthritis, treatment may center around medications and treatments that calm the body's immune system and reduce inflammation. Rest, exercise and splinting may also aid the benefits of these procedures. In some cases strengthening and other modalities may be employed, but these should only be administered by a trained professional. Passive and active range of motion to reduce stiffness and increase mobility of the joint forms the main part of a therapy session.
Treatment for osteoarthritis is generally aimed at managing the pain, improving function in everyday activities and slowing the progression of the disease. Topical analgesics such as creams, gels and other ointments are used as the first line of defense. NSAIDS like ibuprofen and Advil are commonly prescribed. Treatments like TENS, ultrasound, massage and cold therapy is also used. Splinting may help control pain and increase function for those who suffer with arthritis in the hand. Assistive devices that protect the joint may also relieve pain and arrest further deformity. Training to perform activities of daily living without putting too much stress on the joints is also rendered. Surgery may be the only option in severe cases. With this and other advice given by your doctor and physiotherapist, the arthritis sufferer can learn to live comfortably with a disease that would otherwise be crippling