Treating Knee Arthritis

Overview

For most patients who have only mild arthritis, the pain can be managed conservatively, as listed below. The treatment program will be tailored to your symptoms and functional needs.
  • Activity modification: Modify your activity, but try to stay active. For example, you may consider switching from running to cycling or swimming. Inactivity will lead to de-conditioning and functional decline.
  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen can help reduce pain. However, check with your doctor, as NSAIDs may irritate your stomach and affect your kidneys. Some patients have found a glucosamine supplement helpful in treating symptoms of osteoarthritis. But scientific evidence is conflicted about its effectiveness.
  • Therapy: Physical therapy should include proper stretching and strengthening exercises, which help prevent functional decline and loss of muscle conditioning. Water therapy is quite helpful promoting strength while limiting the impact on the knee.
  • Injections: A variety of medications including steroids or hyaluronic acid have been used to treat pain and swelling, showing variable success. Your physician will discuss the potential risks and benefits of repeated injections.
  • Weight Loss: If you are overweight, you should work to lose pounds. This will put less pressure on the joint.
If the arthritis becomes severe, pain may not respond to any such interventions. Patients with severe arthritis sometimes can benefit from joint-replacement surgery. Partial (unicompartmental) knee replacement or total knee replacement can be performed via a minimally invasive, quadriceps-sparing procedure that can significantly shorten recovery and decreases postoperative pain.