Non-Surgical Knee Pain Treatment Options

Living With Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Learning that you have osteoarthritis can be discouraging. We want you to know there are many treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help with the pain. Our physicians will work with you to develop an individualized plan to address your knee pain and prescribe treatments. The following are some of the most common non-surgical treatments for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Lifestyle Changes

Your physician may start by recommending lifestyle changes that can protect your knee joint and slow the disease's progression.

  • Exercise. Low-impact, low-stress activities such as walking, cycling or swimming can strengthen your knee without putting stress on your knee. Try to avoid competitive sports and running, as well as other high-impact activities that may put additional stress on your knee.
  • Weight loss. Obesity is one of the main risk factors for knee osteoarthritis. If you are overweight, losing just a few pounds can reduce the stress placed on your knee joint and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis progression.
  • Physical therapy. Working with a physical therapist may help to improve your knee strength and flexibility. Exercises can improve your range-of-motion and strengthen the supporting muscles around your knee. A therapist can also help you find new ways to do everyday activities to reduce the stress on your knees.
  • Supportive devices. Using knee braces, shoe inserts, and walking canes can help reduce knee stress. Simple changes, like using a reacher to pick up low-lying items, can also make a difference. Installing equipment at home, such as a shower bench or handrails may make it easier to perform everyday activities.
  • Rest. Osteoarthritis can make you tired and the symptoms may be more noticeable when you are fatigued. Try to find a balance between activity and rest. Using ice packs and elevating your knee can relieve pain and reduce swelling. Get a full night's sleep and consider short naps from time to time if they help.

Pain Medication

Your physician may recommend medications if your knee pain is not relieved from lifestyle changes or worsens over time. Be sure to consult your physician before taking any medication or supplements.

  • Acetaminophen. Mild pain may be relieved with acetaminophen, such as Tylenol®.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Drugs like aspirin (Bayer® or Bufferin®) and ibuprofen (Advil®or Motrin®) are intended to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Over-the-counter supplements. Your physician may recommend supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to maintain healthy joints.
  • Alternative medicine. Some alternative therapies may help with arthritic knee pain. Talk to your physician before trying any alternative medicine, as it could interfere with the plan recommended by your physician.

Injection Treatment

Your physician may prescribe injection treatments before recommending surgery.

  • Steroid injections. Cortisone is a steroidal medicine that is injected directly into your knee joint intended to quickly relieve pain and inflammation. Because repeated injections may result in further cartilage breakdown, your physician may limit the number of injections you receive. The benefits may last anywhere from a few days to many months.
  • Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring gel like substance that is injected directly into your knee with the intention of lubricating the joint to reduce irritation and inflammation. Relief may last anywhere from for a few days to many months.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Every patient's case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor's specific instructions. Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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