The Basics of Arthritis and Nonoperative Treatment – Hip, Knee, Shoulder and Ankle Arthrits

Arthritis is a term that is used to refer to any of over 100 diseases that affect the joints of a person, causing them to become inflamed. While surgery is a way to treat arthritis, most people would prefer not to go under the knife, for obvious reasons. Non surgical treatment for arthritis includes medication, physiotherapy, use of splints or other assistive aids, patient information and losing weight. Let’s take a look at the most common forms of arthritis: Hip, knee, shoulder and ankle, and how they can be treated without having to resort to surgery.


Arthritis of the hip joint is a condition in which the cartilage of the hip joint gets eroded and the raw bone underlying it becomes exposed. This causes the hip joint surface to become rougher and therefore causes the individual to experience pain and stiffness in the hip joint.

The common method of treatment of hip arthritis is total hip replacement surgery. Non surgical treatments can include:

  • Applying ice to the affected area
  • Taking lots of rest
  • Changing the kinds of activities that you engage in on a daily basis
  • Using medication
  • Injecting medicines into the joint area


Arthritis of the knee is a condition in which the cartilage of the knee slowly gets lost from the joint surface. As a result, the individual experiences a lot of pain and stiffness in the knee. It is thought that it may be caused through obesity, frequent bending of the knee and repetitive activities that are known to aggravate the condition.

Surgical treatment of the knee for arthritis is only recommended after the following non surgical methods have been tried with no success:

  • Conservation Non Surgical Treatments
    • Changes in lifestyle
      • Losing weight
      • Changing the types of activities that are performed on a daily basis
      • Avoiding too much activity that may aggravate the condition such as climbing stairs, running, kneeling, standing or squatting
    • Exercise
      • Physiotherapy to strengthen the joint
      • Minimum activity exercises like cycling and swimming
      • Water aerobics
    • Application of heat or ice to the affected area
    • Medicines for the pain
      • Acetaminophen, commonly sold as Tylenol
      • NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, Naproxen and COX-2 inhibitors
      • Glucosamine sulfate, which promotes the rebuilding of cartilage tissue
    • Neoprene knee sleeve
      • This is worn on the knee joint and helps to reduce pain and stiffness
  • More Aggressive Non Surgical Treatments
    • Knee joint injections
    • G2 unloader knee brace


Shoulder arthritis is a condition in which the smooth cartilage that covers the ball and socket joint of the shoulder starts to wear away as a result of injury, too much activity or disease. As a result, the bone between the joints rubs onto the other bone causing pain, stiffness and inability to perform certain activities.

While shoulder replacement surgery is commonly recommended as a treatment for shoulder arthritis, non operative methods of treating shoulder joint arthritis includes:

  • Gentle exercises that help to move the joint
  • NSAIDs


Arthritis of the ankle is a condition in which the joint connecting the foot to the leg has worn out or damaged cartilage. Arthritis of the ankle can affect all or any of the three ankle bones: the tibia, the fibula and the talus. As a result, the joint becomes inflamed and the individual experiences a lot of pain.

While ankle replacement may be considered as the surgical treatment for the condition, non operative treatments may also work such as:

  • Weight loss and diet control
  • Exercise such as swimming and cycling
  • Medications like acetaminophen, NSAIDs or stronger drugs
  • Joint aspiration
  • Splints or braces

It is advisable for you to get in touch with your pain management clinic in your area to find out more about on operative ways of managing your arthritis.