Friction from bone-to-bone contact in the knee causes pain and inflammation. While not life-threatening, pain experienced while walking, running or bike riding limits activity. Conservative treatments and surgery reduce pain, restore function and preserve an active lifestyle.
Bone-to-bone contact in the knee is due to the loss of cartilage that cushions and lubricates the joints (osteoarthritis). Seen most often in people older than 50, osteoarthritis also develops in younger, athletic individuals. Untreated arthritic knee pain can cause disability.
Doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medications while pain is mild, providing limited relief. Physical therapy may strengthen surrounding muscles, increasing stability by limiting lateral movement. Continuing physical therapy exercises at home preserves knee stability, but means a permanent lifestyle change.
Your doctor may inject corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid into the affected knee, providing pain relief, calming inflammation and lubricating the joint. Injections, given at four-month intervals, do not provide pain relief for everyone.
Knee braces redistribute your weight and redirect pressure caused by walking. Functional braces support injured knees and are used alongside knee stabilizing exercises, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Usually reserved for people older than 60, knee replacement surgery has a 90 percent success rate, but is considered the last resort, after conservative treatments fail.