Osteoarthritis: What it is and how to live with it

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (or OA) is the most common type of arthritis among Canadians. So if you’re living with osteoarthritis, know that you’re not alone.

Osteoarthritis involves swelling (or inflammation) of the joints, often leading to chronic pain. Most commonly, OA affects the knee, hip, and hands.

In osteoarthritis, the material that covers and protects the ends of your bones (known as cartilage) breaks down. This leads to bone-on-bone contact which can cause arthritis symptoms.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Swelling (inflammation)
  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion

This type of joint damage can occur through the process of aging, but it can also occur in response to an injury. Your age, obesity, sex, occupation, activity level, history of joint injury, and genetics all play a role.

For example, osteoarthritis of the knee can develop unexpectedly. An injury to the ACL (a key ligament beneath the kneecap) may be surgically corrected, but can still result in long-lasting pain. Injury is one of the common causes of arthritic knee pain. Even if the knee injury is resolved, arthritis pain can persist for years and impact your daily activities. Fortunately, there are treatment options to relieve the knee pain caused by knee osteoarthritis.

Dealing with osteoarthritis & joint pain

Because osteoarthritis is a chronic or long-term condition, it’s important to learn how to manage your pain levels and find relief.

Some common treatment options include:

  • over-the-counter pain relievers including acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen, ibuprofen, etc.
  • prescription pain medications
  • physical therapy
  • acupuncture
  • heating pads or cold therapy
  • hyaluronic acid injections
  • corticosteroids

Here are some helpful resources to help you keep joint pain from osteoarthritis in check:

Who can I see to help me find joint pain relief?

You can always seek treatment or general medical advice through your family doctor. He or she may be able to provide effective treatment for the affected joints or refer you to someone who can - perhaps a physical therapist, an orthopaedic clinic, or a rheumatology specialist (with expertise in the care of bones and joints). An x-ray will probably be performed at a physical examination to assess the joint damage.

What else can I do to ease pain?

Stay active: Always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. But in general, low-impact and strengthening exercises like tai chi are well-suited for this type of arthritis to avoid joint injury. Overall, physical activity or exercise programs are also very complementary to other treatments.

Maintain a healthy weight: Having a healthy body weight is important for good overall health, and can affect hip and knee pain. For OA in particular, obesity and carrying excess weight can be risk factors. For some individuals, weight loss may be appropriate to ease the load on weight-bearing joints.

Take charge of your wellness: It's your own wellness and quality of life, so don't hesitate to speak up about painful joints, OA pain, arthritis symptoms in general, or your treatment plan! Be sure to discuss any side effects of treatment you're considering, and ask about options that may be tried before knee replacement surgery or joint replacement surgery (also known as arthroplasty).

How Synvisc® can help with OA pain management

  • Synvisc® (hylan G-F 20) is a gel-like fluid, derived from hyaluronic acid, that is used as a temporary replacement and supplement for joint fluid. It is not a corticosteroid injection, it's a different type of joint injection called viscosupplementation.
  • Made from hylans, Synvisc® is an injectable formulation that mimics the elasticity and thickness of joint fluid (called synovial fluid)
  • Proven in clinical trials, Synvisc® can decrease pain and discomfort, allowing more extensive movement of the knee joint, shoulder, hip joint, or ankle.
  • SYNVISC® has been shown to reduce pain from osteoarthritis for up to 6 months. However, prospective clinical data in knee OA patients have shown benefit of treatment up to 52 weeks, following a single course of three SYNVISC® injections.
  • SYNVISC®is the most widely-used intra-articular hyaluronic acid across Canada and can be used for all severities of osteoarthritis.

Visit synviscone.ca for mor information on:

Or call our SYNVISC® call centre at 1-800-796-7991 if you have any questions.

This product may not be right for you. Consult your healthcare professional.
* Results may vary for each individual.
Synvisc® is only intended for intra-articular use by a physician to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis of the shoulder, hip and ankle.

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