Osteoarthritis Treatment

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting roughly 12 percent of Americans aged 25 - 74. It is a chronic joint disease that breaks down cartilage and bones in the neck, lower back, knees, hips, shoulders, and/or fingers. Common symptoms are pain, stiffness, and limited joint movement.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is classified as either primary or secondary. Primary osteoarthritis is the most common form. Although there is no known cause, numerous risk factors have been identified. Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease that sets off the joint degeneration, such as an infection, severe injury, or congenital deformity.

The following are some of the most common risk factors for primary osteoarthritis:

  • Heredity – Differences in people’s genes may contribute to the risk of osteoarthritis
  • Obesity – Excessive weight can put stress on joints and promote cartilage damage.
  • Age – Osteoarthritis is more common among the elderly, but even young adults can develop osteoarthritis.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Poor nutrition.

The following are some common risk factors for secondary osteoarthritis:

  • Injury – Significant injury, such as ligament damage, can eventually lead to osteoarthritis.
  • Repetitive stress injuries.
  • Scoliosis or other curvatures of the spine.
  • Birth defects that affect the hip joint, such as congenital hip dysplasia or congenital dislocation.

Osteoarthritis Treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Physicians at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Osteoarthritis Center offer patient-centered diagnostic evaluations and a comprehensive set of treatment options that will be individualized to your case. Osteoarthritis treatment options include:


  • Optimization of anti-inflammatory and pain medication
  • Injections of cortisone and viscosupplements
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Guidance on weight loss and exercise
  • Bracing and orthotics
  • Self-management strategies
  • Guidance on the use of nutritional supplements

Surgical Intervention

Bone and Joint Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital

The Orthopaedic & Arthritis Center at BWH is one of the most highly regarded orthopaedic and joint disease research and treatment programs in the world. Comprehensive and innovative bone and joint care is the foundation of the Center, beginning nearly a century ago when one of our founding hospitals, the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital, became the first teaching hospital in the country wholly devoted to arthritis treatment and related diseases.

Today, the Center – a collaboration of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Division of Rheumatology, Inflammation, and Immunity - is known for its pioneering team of physicians and researchers dedicated to doing everything possible for our patients while helping to develop and apply the most advanced treatments for bone and joint diseases and conditions.

Patient- and Family-centered Care

BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-centered care involves systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment.

Quality of Patient Care

BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. We routinely monitor our patient satisfaction through surveys sent to patients to assess their total care experience, monitor what we are doing well, and assess areas for improvement. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we are measured compared with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital Osteoarthritis Treatment Team

Year after year, our Rheumatology and Orthopaedic Services are ranked among the top programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

The Orthopaedic & Arthritis Center is able to maintain this level of care through a combination of medical expertise, with one of the largest and most experienced staffs in the country; a commitment to quality care, demonstrated by our numerous quality and safety awards; state-of-the-art facilities; and advanced technologies.

Our Orthopaedic & Arthritis Center team of physicians, nurses, physician’s assistants, and staff work closely with colleagues in specialties throughout BWH and nursing to deliver safe, effective, and compassionate care to every patient.

Our Rheumatology and Orthopaedics Team:

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our osteoarthritis treatment experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH