Arthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee, caused by the degenerative breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. As the protective layer (cartilage) becomes frayed and rough and eventually wears away, the bones rub together and cause pain that worsens over time. Osteoarthritis mostly affects people 50 years of age and older. Symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness in the knees. Although there is no cure for arthritis, the following treatments can help manage the pain from arthritic knee joints:

  • Lifestyle modifications – minimizing activities that worsen or trigger the condition, combining traditional exercises and coordination exercises to improve mobility and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on the knee joint
  • Physical therapy – an individualized exercise program that helps increase the range of motion and flexibility and strengthens the muscles in the legs
  • Assistive devices – using assistive devices, such as a cane, brace or knee sleeve, can help shift the weight away or support the entire knee load to relieve knee discomfort
  • Ice/heat – applying heat or ice can provide some relief from pain
  • Medications – some of the medicines that are useful in treating arthritis include over-the-counter, non-narcotic pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Alternative therapies – acupuncture, magnetic pulse therapy, platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections can help relieve pain and reduce the symptoms of inflammation
  • Surgery – doctors may recommend surgery if nonsurgical treatment options do not treat symptoms or if the pain from arthritis causes disability