Knee osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be effectively managed, although the underlying process cannot be reversed. Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
Medications may be recommended for the treatment of knee joint pain. These typically include over-the-counter pain relievers such as anti-inflammatories or acetaminophen. Topical treatments such as heat or ice may be used. Physical therapy is often recommended as well, including stretching and strengthening exercises. Knee braces may be helpful for some patients.
When conservative treatments are inadequate, a knee joint injection with corticosteroid or hyaluronate (lubricant) may be recommended. There are many alternative injections that may help with knee osteoarthritis pain, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP), bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC), and dextrose prolotherapy. However, these injections are still considered experimental by the FDA and are usually not covered by medical insurance.
When nonoperative management options have been exhausted, surgery may be considered. In cases of relatively focused osteoarthritis in a certain part of the knee, realigning the bones (osteotomy) or partial joint replacements may be considered. With more diffuse knee osteoarthritis, a total knee replacement (arthroplasty) may be the best option.