Living with osteoarthritis  

With the right support, you can lead a healthy, active life with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis doesn’t have to get worse and it doesn’t always lead to disability.


Self-care is an integral part of daily life. It means you take responsibility for your own health and wellbeing with support from those involved in your care. Self-care includes things you do each day to stay fit, maintain good physical and mental health, prevent illness or accidents, and effectively deal with minor ailments and long-term conditions.

People living with long-term conditions can benefit enormously if they receive support for self-care. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, have a better quality of life and are more active and independent.

Living healthily

A good diet and regular exercise will help keep muscles strong and control your weight, which is good for osteoarthritis and also has other health benefits. Read more information about:

Take your medication

It is important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you start to feel better. Continuous medication can help prevent pain sometimes, although if your medications have been prescribed ‘as required’, you may not need to take them in between painful episodes. If you have any questions or concerns about the medication you're taking or side effects, talk to your healthcare team.

It may also be useful to read the information leaflet that comes with the medication, which will tell you about possible interactions with other drugs or supplements. Check with your healthcare team if you plan to take any over-the-counter remedies, such as painkillers, or any nutritional supplements as these can sometimes interfere with your medication.

Read more information about how your local pharmacy can help you.  

Regular reviews

Because osteoarthritis is a long-term condition, you'll be in regular contact with your healthcare team. A good relationship with the team means that you can easily discuss your symptoms or concerns. The more the team knows, the more it can help you.

Keeping well

Everyone with a long-term condition, such as osteoarthritis, is encouraged to get a yearly flu jab each autumn to protect against flu (influenza). It's also recommended they get a pneumoccocal vaccination. This is a one-off injection that protects against a serious chest infection called pneumococcal pneumonia.

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Complications hide

Reduced mobility

If you have osteoarthritis, you may sometimes find it difficult to move around. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries such as trips and falls.

Foot pain

Osteoarthritis of the feet most commonly affects the base of the big toe. It can cause pain when you walk and lead to a bunion (a bony outgrowth) at the affected joint. The type of shoes you wear can influence this, so avoid shoes with a raised heel. A leg brace may ease the symptoms.

Septic arthritis

If you have had joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), your replacement joint could become infected. This is a severe complication and requires emergency treatment in hospital.

Read more about septic arthritis.

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Talk to others show

Many people find it helpful to talk to other people who are in a similar position to them. You may find support from a group or by talking individually to someone who has osteoarthrits.

Patient organisations have local groups where you can meet other people with the same condition.

The Arthritis Care helpline is open 10am-4pm weekdays. Call free on 0808 800 4050. You can also email them at Helplines@arthritiscare.org.uk.

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Understanding your feelings show

A diagnosis of osteoarthritis can initially be confusing and overwhelming. Like many people with a long-term health condition, those who find out they have osteoarthritis may feel anxious or depressed. But there are people you can talk to who can help. Talk to your GP if you feel you need support to cope with your illness.

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Work and money show

If you have severe osteoarthritis and are still working, your symptoms may interfere with your working life and may affect your ability to do your job. Arthritis Care has useful advice on how you can make simple adjustments at work to make it easier to do your job.

If you have to stop work or work part time because of your rheumatoid arthritis, you may find it hard to cope financially. You may be entitled to one or more of the following types of financial support:

  • If you have a job but can't work because of your illness, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.  
  • If you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance.
  • If you are aged 64 or under and need help with personal care or have walking difficulties, you may be eligible for Disability Living Allowance.
  • If you are aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance.
  • If you are caring for someone with rheumatoid arthritis, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance.
  • You may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or if you have a low household income.

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Page last reviewed: 16/08/2012

Next review due: 16/08/2014


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Jakewills said on 07 March 2012

Sorry the link I wrote was wrong, this is the right link:

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Jakewills said on 02 March 2012

I've used kneease myself for an ACL reconstruction that still gives me jip.
It helped quite a bit, I was surprised, I only bought it because it's pretty cheap and I thought what the heck.
I use it in the morning and at night and I have no pain during the day - except after I train my legs I have to use it again to stop them aching excessively.

I bought it because of the revieq I read over here:
might be useful

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Anniewish said on 07 August 2011

Hi Shankers, I have exactly the same problem with both my knees. I've been taking diclofenec and co-codomol for several years and although they take the edge off, I continually struggle with the pain. Could I please ask you for the details of the kneease pain relief you refer to as I'd like to give it a try. Thanks - Annie

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shankers said on 02 August 2011

I suffer from advanced oasteoarthritis of both knees and have struggled with anti-inflammatories for many years. The only significant pain relief I achieve is with a Kneease pain relief device which straps to my knee to block the pain.

Hopefully I can avoid surgery as I get older.

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