Knee Arthritis Treatment Overview
Knee arthritis symptoms like pain, swelling, and stiffness can be treated at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). There are also lifestyle changes, OTC pain relievers, and natural remedies you can try. It can take 2–6 weeks of at-home care to get relief from your arthritis symptoms.
How to treat knee arthritis without surgery
- RICE treats the inflammation, swelling, and stiffness caused by knee arthritis.
- Lifestyle changes: These include low-impact exercise and losing or maintaining weight.
- Wearing a knee brace can make it easier to walk and be active.
- OTC pain relievers include anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and diclofenac gel (Voltaren).
- Natural remedies that reduce joint pain and inflammation include glucosamine/chondroitin, turmeric supplements, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
Knee arthritis treatment next steps
Knee arthritis can often be treated at home, but you should see your doctor if at-home care doesn’t help or you have severe pain and swelling. You may need prescription medication, cortisone injections, or physical therapy.
Treating knee arthritis is important because the pain can worsen over time. The knee may also become deformed or buckle (give out) without warning.
If your pain and other symptoms aren’t improving with OTC or prescription medications and lifestyle changes, then you may need knee replacement surgery.
Go to the ER if you have redness or warmth of the knee, which could be a sign of a more serious condition.
Medical tests & labs
Your doctor will likely order X-rays to confirm that you have knee arthritis and determine how severe it is. This is usually done by your primary care physician or an orthopedist.
Depending on the results, a doctor will discuss with you what medications you should try and other ways to treat the problem.
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