Osteoarthritis of the knee is a degenerative condition of the joint. While it is very common in older individuals, people of all ages can be affected. Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis may include warmth over the affected joint, pain, inflammation, limited mobility, and morning stiffness. If the knee joint has been severely damaged, joint replacement surgery may be the most effective option, however, for less extreme cases, the following non-surgical knee osteoarthritis treatment options may be very effective.
Treating osteoarthritis pain with over-the-counter analgesics can help improve range-of-motion and prevent morning stiffness upon awakening. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are effective in managing both pain and inflammation of knee osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen is also an effective over-the-counter pain medication but it is ineffective in decreasing joint inflammation, which is one of the hallmarks of knee osteoarthritis.
If you experience gastric side effects from naproxen sodium or ibuprofen, eating prior to taking them will help prevent stomach upset. Further, taking a lower dose may also help prevent gastrointestinal-related side effects from anti-inflammatory drugs. Cortisone injections are also effective because they help relieve pain and inflammation of the knee joint. Cortisone injections may also help prevent the need for joint replacement surgery.
Physical Therapy And Icing
Physical therapy is another effective non-surgical knee osteoarthritis treatment option. It helps promote mobility, decreases inflammation, and enhances blood flow to the damaged knee joint and its surrounding structures. To further complement the effects of physical therapy, take your over-the-counter pain medications an hour or so before the start of your sessions. Decreased joint pain will allow you to perform your physical therapy exercises more efficiently. In addition, icing the affected knee will help reduce pain and decrease joint inflammation.
In between icings, heat treatments with a heating pad or warm moist compress may further help relieve your symptoms by decreasing joint stiffness and muscle spasms. Physical therapy programs are available in outpatient settings, however, if you are unable to leave your home because of decreased mobility or pain, in-home physical therapy programs are also available. You do not need a physician's order to participate in a physical therapy program, however, you may wish to seek a physical therapy program recommendation from your doctor.
If you have osteoarthritis of the knee, consider the above non-surgical knee osteoarthritis treatments. Effective osteoarthritis management can help prevent further joint damage so that you can enjoy your activities comfortably and symptom-free.