Osteoarthritis of the knee isn't difficult to diagnose, Marra said. "If your knees hurt and you're over 50, there is a good chance that you have arthritis," he said. "You should then see your doctor or another health provider."
What should follow is weight loss, advice from a pharmacist on safe and effective medications, and an exercise program overseen by a physical therapist, Marra said.
But the results of the self-guided program followed by most of the study participants were impressive, said Dr. Susan M. Goodman, an assistant attending rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
"What came through is that most people end up trying to do the right thing," she said. "The contribution of weight and lack of exercise was recognized in this large group."
Self-help is a natural course of action because "people don't regard osteoarthritis as a disease as much as they consider it wear and tear, something they can take care of themselves," Goodman said. So the study results can be considered a mark of plain common sense, she said.
Learn more about osteoarthritis and its treatment at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Carlo Marra, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Susan M. Goodman, M.D., assistant attending rheumatologist, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City; April 2010, Arthritis Care & Research
All rights reserved