How to Treat Arthritis in the Knees

The knees bear a lot of weight and strain. Because of this wear and tear, the cartilage in your knees can wear down, leading to osteoarthritis.


According to the Mayo Clinic, more people suffer from osteoarthritis than from any other type of arthritis, and the knees are among the most commonly affected areas. But knee pain doesn't have to keep you off your feet; there are several ways to treat arthritis in your knees.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice and heat packs
  • Knee brace
  • Acetaminophen or NSAIDs
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain creams
  • Cane (optional)

Instructions

    • 1

      Visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Your doctor may recommend OTC or prescription medications. These may include acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for knee pain and inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, while acetaminophen can help relieve pain, it’s not effective for inflammation. However, NSAIDs—which are available in both OTC and prescription forms—can reduce inflammation as well as fight pain.

    • 2

      Rub OTC pain-relieving creams or ointments into your knees. The Mayo Clinic notes that this home treatment can may help relieve osteoarthritis knee pain temporarily, since your knee joints are close to your skin’s surface. Creams and gels may either numb pain with a temperature change or deliver pain-relieving medication through your skin.

    • 3

      Lose weight if excess pounds are contributing to your knee pain. A low-fat, low-calorie diet and a regular exercise routine are lifestyle changes that may help decrease the stress on your knees, which are weight-bearing joints.

    • 4

      Visit a physical therapist. Regular physical therapy may help to improve your range of motion and reduce pain and stiffness in your knees through use of exercises, assistive devices, and massage.

    • 5

      Lightly exercise your knees by walking, swimming, and biking. The Mayo Clinic reports that gentle physical activities like walking or swimming may help to stabilize your knee joint.

    • 6

      Wear a brace on your knee or use a cane for extra support. Assistive devices such as a knee brace or cane may help you keep pressure off of your knee.

    • 7

      Apply an ice pack to your knees or use heat treatment. Your doctor can help advise you on whether heat or cold might help your knee pain. When it comes to using cold treatment, a bag of frozen veggies will work just as well as an ice pack.

    • 8

      Rest your knees when they become sore. Take a break from activities, elevate your knees, and give them time to recover.

    • 9

      Consider acupuncture. While studies have been mixed on the value of alternative treatments for arthritis, some research indicates that performing acupuncture on your knees may reduce pain. Research published in Acupuncture in Medicine suggested that acupuncture may effectively soothe knee pain in osteoarthritis. It may also offer cost-savings compared with other treatments.

    • 10

      Ask your doctor about supplements. Another alternative treatment for arthritis in the knees is glucosamine, which some believe may help to ease inflammation. Though studies are not definitive, research published in Current Medical Research and Opinion showed that patients with osteoarthritis who took glucosamine supplements experienced less pain and recovered faster.

Tips & Warnings

  • Regular, consistent care of your knees should manage arthritis pain. Surgery and in-patient treatments, like injections, are other options to consider.
  • If you have severe pain in your knees that gets worse or doesn't subside, see your doctor.
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References

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