Managing your condition

Although osteoarthritis (OA) knee pain is not currently curable,1 there are many treatment options that can help you reduce pain and maintain an active lifestyle.1-4 OA is usually managed with a combination of approaches, including lifestyle changes, medications, injections, and, sometimes, surgery.1-4 Click on the topics below to learn more.

Lifestyle Changes There are several lifestyle changes you can make that may
help manage the pain associated with OA of the knee.
Exercise and
physical therapy

Your doctor can help you design an exercise plan and/or refer you to a physical therapist.2,5

For recommended exercises, click here.

Weight loss

Being overweight can make OA worse. Shedding extra weight may reduce burden on your knees.2,5


For more information on weight loss, click here.

Dietary changes

Certain foods have properties that may help reduce pain and swelling in your knees.6,7


For more information on nutrition, click here.

Non-surgical Treatment Options
Over-the-counter pain relievers2,5,8

— Aspirin
— Acetaminophen
— Ibuprofen
— Naproxen

Prescription pain medications5,8

— eg, Celecoxib (CELEBREX®)
— Mild narcotic pain relievers
  (usually for short-term
  use only)

Topical pain relievers5,8

— Creams or sprays

In people with OA, there may not be enough HA, or the quality of the HA in the joint and surrounding tissues may have decreased.

Injections There are 2 types of injections commonly used to treat OA knee pain.

are anti-swelling
(anti-inflammatory) hormones that can decrease pain2,5

Hyaluronic acid (HA) substitutes, also called viscosupplementation (such as EUFLEXXA)2,5,9

HA is a natural gel-like substance found in the fluid of a healthy knee that cushions and protects the joint. In people with OA, there may not be enough HA, or the quality of the HA in the joint and surrounding tissues may have decreased. Doctors can treat OA knee pain with injections of HA similar to natural HA


Surgery may also be an option for treating OA knee pain. It is usually a last resort when other treatments have not worked. A surgeon can remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage and reposition or smooth out the bones. In addition, a surgeon can perform a total or partial knee replacement, in which all or some of the knee joint is replaced with an artificial one.2,5


If you suspect that you have OA of the knee, you will probably see your primary care doctor first. He or she may then refer you to one of these specialists:

  • Orthopedic surgeon (or orthopedist) is an expert on bones and the skeletal system5,10
  • Rheumatologist specializes in treating arthritis and conditions that affect joints, muscles, and bones5,10
  • Sports medicine physician, like an orthopedic surgeon, is an expert on bones, muscles, and the skeletal system, but focuses on using exercise to treat disease5,10
  • Physical therapist has special training in exercise and therapy to improve joint function5,10
  • Physiatrist (or rehabilitation physician) is a nerve, muscle, and bone expert who treats injuries or illnesses that affect how you move11

References: 1. Srikulmontree T. Osteoarthritis. American College of Rheumatology website. Updated May 2015. Accessed October 11, 2016. 2. Osteoarthritis of the knee (degenerative arthritis of the knee). WebMD website. Reviewed May 24, 2014. Accessed October 11, 2016. 3. Manek NJ, Lane NE. Osteoarthritis: current concepts in diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(6):1795-1804. 4. Parmet S, Lynm C, Glass RM. JAMA patient page: osteoarthritis of the knee. JAMA. 2003;289(8):1068. 5. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Handout on Health: Osteoarthritis. NIH Publication 15-4617. Published April 2015. Accessed November 3, 2016. 6. Rakel DP, Rindfleisch A. Inflammation: nutritional, botanical, and mind-body influences. South Med J. 2005;98(3):303-310. 7. Bruso J. Anti-inflammation diet for osteoarthritis. Livestrong website.
/88583-antiinflammation-diet-osteoarthritis/. Updated August 28, 2015. Accessed November 3, 2016. 8. US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Managing Osteoarthritis Pain With Medicines: a Review of the Research for Adults. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; January 2012. AHRQ publication 11(12)-EHC076-A. 9. EUFLEXXA [package insert]. Parsippany, NJ: Ferring Pharmaceuticals Inc. 10. McCrory P. What is sports and exercise medicine? Br J Sports Med. 2006;40(12):955-957. 11. What is a physiatrist? American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation website.
/patients/aboutpmr/Pages/physiatrist.aspx. Updated August 28, 2015. Accessed October 11, 2016.

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