Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of joint disease in Australia, mainly affecting people over 45 years of age.

OA causes pain and stiffness, especially after resting or not moving the joint for a while. The most common joints affected are the hips, knees, hands and spine.

Paracetamol tablets/capsules and anti-inflammatory creams and gels are safe and effective. However, arthritis (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs can have serious side-effects. They are being increasingly used with caution, ­especially in the elderly who are most at-risk. ­

Non-drug treatments

Lifestyle changes and physical treatments are now the mainstay of therapy for OA.

  • Weight loss is vital if you are overweight. ­Reducing weight can relieve pain and stiffness and slows the ­progression of the disease.
  • Low impact exercise is strongly recommended. Exercise strengthens the muscles around the joint and improves general fitness.
  • Hydrotherapy, tai chi, massage, cold packs and TENS (nerve stimulation) and some physiotherapy treatments can also be beneficial.
  • Aids such as walking sticks, shoehorns, grips on taps, long-handled cleaning aids can help.

Do supplements work?

There is no evidence of any significant benefit from herbs, vitamins, minerals, aromatherapy or naturopathic and homeopathic products.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are safe but there is no good evidence that they work.Changes in the diet are also of no benefit.

For further ­information: Speak to your GP for more advice or go to www.arthritisaustralia.com.au.


  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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