Treatment of musculoskeletal conditions starts with education to facilitate self-management and pain relief through massage, ice, physical therapy, and/or pain relief medications.
Many cases of osteoarthritis, soft-tissue rheumatism, and inflammatory arthritis require nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other stronger or more specific drugs. Rehabilitative programs can improve function, activities, and participation. Joint replacement surgery should be considered for end-stage joint damage.
For rheumatoid arthritis, the greatest successes in recent years have resulted from disease management with prevention of tissue damage that lead to better daily function and increased ability to participate in activities. Anti-rheumatic drugs (such as methotrexate) are readily available and effective. Targeted biologic therapies are available mainly in industrialised countries. Addressing symptoms with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and rehabilitation are key components of treatment. These are cost effective and easy-to-implement strategies.
For osteoporosis, a combination of vitamin and calcium supplementation, and specific medications may be needed. Exercise programs, rehabilitation, and education on daily functioning, including encouraging a “bone-healthy” lifestyle to reduce the risk of falls and prevent fractures, are all important. Osteoporotic fractures may also need surgical interventions.