Knee Osteoarthritis: 7 Nonsurgical Ways to Ease Pain and Stiffness

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Knee osteoarthritis worsens as the cartilage that normally protects bones gradually wears away. Though no one can predict how rapidly their arthritis might progress, everyone can slow the process and ease their symptoms with nonsurgical treatments.

Your treatment for knee osteoarthritis has three goals. You need therapies that diminish your knee pain and stiffness, maintain or improve mobility, and slow down the progressive joint degeneration.

The pain management specialists at Alliance Spine Associates, LLC, recommend personalized nonsurgical treatments that help you reach all those goals, allowing you to stay active and enjoy life while postponing or avoiding surgery.

Here, they explain seven nonsurgical options for treating knee osteoarthritis:

Physical therapy

Many people worry that exercise might be dangerous for an arthritic joint. While you need to be careful about the types of activities you choose, exercise helps to slow joint damage and relieve your pain by:

  • Boosting circulation
  • Reducing swelling
  • Promoting healing
  • Relieving stiffness
  • Increasing joint lubrication
  • Improving range of motion
  • Maintaining strong bones
  • Strengthening muscles that support the joint

Most people start with physical therapy. Your physical therapist evaluates your knee and develops a customized exercise plan that’s safe for your joint.

Weight loss

Losing weight (if needed) is one of the best steps you can take for relieving the pain of knee osteoarthritis. Every time you take a step, the force of your foot hitting the ground travels up your leg to your knees. At the same time, your knees support your body weight.

Every time you take a step while walking, the force on each knee is three-times your body weight. When climbing stairs, your knee bears six-times your weight. 

Carrying excess weight accelerates cartilage and joint degeneration and contributes to inflammation and pain. Losing weight makes a dramatic difference.

Joint support

Supporting your knee with kinesiology taping or bracing may reduce your pain and improve the joint’s mobility. Kinesiology tape is strong and stretchable. When placed around the knee, it supports the joint while allowing the full range of motion.

A knee brace helps to stabilize the joint and minimize contact between the bones. The support provided by a brace eases stiffness and pain and increases your mobility.

Hyaluronic acid injections

The tissues inside your knee joint naturally produce hyaluronic acid, a thick fluid that lubricates the joint and absorbs shock. People with knee osteoarthritis have less hyaluronic acid than normal, a problem that adds to your pain and stiffness. Injecting hyaluronic acid into the joint restores lubrication, reduces inflammation, and may also slow cartilage degeneration.

Corticosteroid injections

Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications. Though osteoarthritis begins when the protective cartilage covering the bones breaks down, the disease also causes inflammation inside the joint. By reducing inflammation, corticosteroid joint injections can give you pain relief lasting weeks, months, or longer (each person has a different response).

Platelet-rich plasma injection

We produce platelet-rich plasma (PRP) by taking a sample of your blood and centrifuging it to separate the platelets and plasma from other blood cells. After we inject PRP into your knee, the platelets release growth factors that trigger healing activities, including:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Promoting cell growth
  • Stimulating new blood vessel growth
  • Recruiting stem cells to the area

Your body’s natural stem cells regenerate the new tissues needed to naturally heal your osteoarthritis.

Genicular radiofrequency ablation

Genicular radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that’s similar to getting an injection. But instead of injecting medications into the joint, we target the genicular nerves outside the joint that carry pain information from your knee to your brain.

We begin by injecting a local anesthetic into the targeted nerve. If the anesthetic effectively relieves your knee pain, we can perform radiofrequency ablation on the same nerve. This treatment sends radiofrequency energy through a needlelike device. As the energy reaches the nerve, it creates a wound that stops the pain signals.

While an anesthetic is effective, it only provides short-term relief. By comparison, radiofrequency ablation can give you pain relief lasting anywhere from three to nine months or longer, depending on how long it takes the nerve to heal.

If you struggle with knee osteoarthritis, don’t wait to learn about your treatment options. Call Alliance Spine Associates, LLC, or request an appointment online today.