Non-surgical treatments for knee arthritis
As we outlined in our first knee arthritis post in this three-part series, there is no cure for knee arthritis, so beware of ‘miracle cures’ that claim otherwise.
If you have knee pain and think it might be knee arthritis, getting treatment can still reduce pain and minimize or delay long-term damage.
There are many non-surgical treatments for knee arthritis, and your orthopedic doctor should first consider the most conservative approaches. This may include rest, avoiding vigorous or weight-bearing activities, and the use of anti-inflammatory medicine.
Your doctor may also recommend occupational therapy or physiotherapy for your knee arthritis, which includes exercises and heat treatment. Depending on the severity of your knee arthritis,
If your symptoms warrant, your doctor may recommend a cane or a knee brace or an injection of cortisone into the knee joint. This is very helpful to relieve pain an allow for other treatments such as physical therapy and exercise.
Exercise is essential for knee arthritis treatment because it increases joint lubrication and strengthens surrounding muscles, which reduces stress on joints. Exercise in a heated pool can bring enormous pain relief and improve range of motion. Many studies have shown that exercise helps people with knee arthritis by reducing pain and stiffness and increasing flexibility, and muscle strength.
Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:
- Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
- Many different medications are used to control pain, including corticosteroids and NSAIDs. Glucocorticoids injected into joints that are inflamed and not responsive to NSAIDS.
- For mild pain without inflammation, acetaminophen may be used.
- Heat/cold therapy for temporary pain relief
- Joint protection to prevent strain or stress on painful joints
- Surgery (sometimes) to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints
- Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight-bearing joints
When conservative measures have been exhausted and are no longer helpful, and if your knee arthritis has become disabling, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the disease. In the elderly with severe knee arthritis, joint replacement can give good results.
Read more information on arthritis treatment or learn about surgical options.