There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis of the knee, but there are many treatment options for knee pain relief you can consider in order to help relieve discomfort and reduce the level of damage. If you have been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and you are experiencing pain, swelling, instability, loss of function or other symptoms, you should consider the below treatments.
There are many non-surgical treatments you should consider before surgery.
Medication is mainly used to control your knee pain, however it will not improve your osteoarthritis. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications are available to help reduce your pain. As the cartilage in the knee is still deteriorating the dosage required for knee pain relief increases over time. A high dosage and long-term intake of pain medication can lead to unwanted side effects.
Unloader One knee brace
Most people choose to take painkillers to reduce their pain. But there are alternatives to enable you to put weight load through the affected joint and conduct physical activity, without having surgery. Unloader One Knee Braces are clinically proven to provide knee pain relief for osteoarthritis of the knee.
The Unloader One is the most clinically studied brace on the market, it has been proven to reduce pain, improve function and improve quality of life. The unique and patented 3-Point Leverage System generates unicompartmental unloading of the knee joint. The brace has been designed to be light, easy-to-use, and low-profile so you can wear it under clothing.
Exercises and Lifestyle
Increased weight leads to a greater strain on you affected knee as more force is being put through the joint. Regular exercise can help reduce your weight, improve your strength and reduce your pain. However, it is important to avoid exercises or forms of exercise that have a high impact on the knee such as jumping or any activities that involve twisting and quick stops. Do not lift weights that are too heavy and try not to bend your knee unnecessarily, you can get a personalised exercise and diet plan from a professional.
Your GP can recommend exercises for your knee osteoarthritis, they can refer you to a physiotherapist who can help you with a specially adapted exercise program. Your physiotherapist can also arrange for you to be fitted with an Unloader One Knee Brace which can help you carry out your exercise plan with knee pain relief and knee stability. Ask you physiotherapist or GP if you are eligible for an Unloader One Knee Brace on the NHS (Call 03450 065 065 to find out more).
Hot and cold therapy can be used to relieve your osteoarthritis. Inflammation and swelling can often be reduced with ice, such as cold compresses. Whereas heat can help to relax your muscles and increase blood circulation, using a hot water bottle, heat pads or similar.
Injections can be used to reduce pain symptoms and inflammation in the affected joint. It is important to note that injections do not cure osteoarthritis, they are used for knee pain relief so that patients can exercise more, have physiotherapy sessions and generally strengthen the affected joint and surrounding muscles. There is a risk of infection from injections, therefore you cannot have surgery within twelve months of having any injections. An offloading brace is a pain relieving yet non-invasive bio-mechanical solution for knee osteoarthritis.
NICE recommends trying non-surgical treatment options before surgery. Click here for a downloadable to show and discuss with your doctor.
Once you have exhausted non-surgical treatment options, your doctor may suggest knee replacement surgery, which involves replacing a damaged or worn, compartment or joint.
Uni-compartmental knee or total knee replacement (TKR)
A knee prosthesis replaces the worn surface of the knee joint and allow the knee to move smoothly. This also provides knee pain relief and improves quality of life. You can either replace the entire knee joint or parts of it. The prosthesis consists of metal and plastic attached to the end of your femur and tibia. Knee replacement surgery is a major operation that can involve anaesthesia.
Following knee surgery physical rehabilitation is required. Patients may need to utilise mobility aids (e.g. walkers, canes, crutches) during recovery. It usually takes between 3 and 6 months to recover from a total knee replacement surgery. The average lifespan of an artificial knee joint is 10-15 years, after which a new knee replacement surgery may be needed.
A knee prosthesis is not a new knee! It is an artificial knee and can never fully achieve the function your healthy knee once had. Ask your orthopaedic surgeon what can you expect to achieve in the future.
Your surgeon may recommend a knee osteotomy. This surgery involves removing a section of the tibia or femur, and altering the alignment or shape to assist with shifting your body weight off the affected side of the knee joint. The osteotomy can give knee pain relief and improve function.