Make Lifestyle Changes a Priority
Any additional therapies you use to deal with your arthritis knee pain will be enhanced by the following lifestyle changes:
Because your knees must bear the weight of nearly your entire body, losing weight can have a tremendous impact on the amount of knee pain you experience. In some cases, weight management may keep symptoms at bay for an extended period of time.
Developing a daily exercise routine in conjunction with your doctor or physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint while improving flexibility and distributing the synovial fluid which is responsible for reducing friction in a healthy knee.
Wearing proper footwear and/or knee braces
Specialized footwear and/or insoles may minimize symptoms of knee arthritis. Knee braces can increase the stability of your knee joint. Wearing a brace can reduce pain as well as the risk of falls which can occur if your knees tend to buckle.
Natural Therapies May Provide Benefits
Many natural therapies are highly effective at relieving arthritic knee pain, although some must be repeated frequently as the results are short lived. The general lack of unwanted side effects makes them appealing to many; however, always consult your doctor before using them to make sure there are no conflicts with medication you may be taking. Any of the following ideas may be helpful in dealing with knee pain from arthritis:
Hot and cold therapies
Hot packs and/or baths improve circulation in the knee joint and reduce pain temporarily. Cold packs reduce swelling and inflammation which can also lead to a reduction in pain. Some people report excellent results by alternating between hot and cold therapies.
Specific supplements may reduce your arthritic knee pain over time. Try adding fish oil (to provide omega-3 fatty acids), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), glucosamine, and/or chondroitin. Many herbs are also reported to aid in the treatment of knee arthritis symptoms, including ginger, turmeric, ginkgo, stinging nettle and more. Check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements, as they could interact with other medications.
Regular massage treatments:
Regular massages relax the muscles surrounding the knee joint, often providing significant pain relief. Learning self-massage techniques or scheduling frequent massage sessions with a massage therapist may prove an important and enjoyable option to effectively deal with arthritic knee pain.
Pharmaceutical Options for Knee Pain
Pharmaceutical options for dealing with arthritis pain range from simple over-the-counter analgesics to prescription narcotics, and knee surgery is generally considered only as a last resort. Make sure to discuss any concerns you may have about side effects with your doctor. A few commonly used pharmaceutical treatments for arthritic knee pain include:
- Oral over the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and other analgesics including the class of drugs known as NSAIDs. While often effective at treating knee pain in its initial stages, many users report a decline in pain reduction after using these medications for an extended period of time.
- Hyaluronic acid injections are injected directly into the affected knee(s) to help lubricate the area and allow more fluid motion of the joint(s). Results vary from person to person but with minimal side effects such as discomfort and swelling at the injection site, this treatment may be worth trying.
- Corticosteroid injections can be used three to four times per year and are also injected directly into the knee joint(s). Results can last for several weeks or longer, but side effects such as bone loss are a concern for some patients.
- Narcotic and/or opioid analgesics may be recommended by your doctor if other pain management options have proven ineffective. Dependencies may develop so use these medications under close medical supervision only.
Discuss Your Options with a Doctor
When dealing with arthritic knee pain today, patients have more treatment options available than ever before. By working closely with your doctor and focusing first on lifestyle changes followed by other treatment options if needed, many arthritis sufferers may be able to prolong or avoid the need for surgery while maintaining a high quality of life.