Non-Surgical Treatments For Osteoarthritic Knees
Twenty-one million Americans have osteoarthritis, and medicine offers a variety of conservative non-operative treatments to help patients manage their condition.
Thirty years ago, the best treatment available for many patients with knee arthritis was aspirin and a cane. Today, we have developed and researched an array of non-surgical techniques to alleviate pain and disability. An osteoarthritis diagnosis need not necessarily lead to deterioration and disability. Conservative non-surgical management of this disease can provide symptomatic relief and even modify the course of the disease.
Early diagnosis is key to successfully managing an affected knee and minimizing the deterioration of the joint. Recently, the American Academy of Othopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reviewed the evidence based conservative treatments for osteoarthritic knee joints, did a comprehensive evaluation of available scientific studies, and made recommendations based on the strength of each treatment’s outcomes.
We’ve listed the treatments identified by the AAOS as most effective, but it’s important to remember that a physician’s best judgment and a patient’s circumstances are also important in deciding on a course of treatment. Any treatment program should be determined in consultation with your physician.
- Strength training and low-impact aerobic exercises: Strong recommendation. Physical activity is given a high AAOS recommendation. It is important, however, that an orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine physician, or physical therapist guides exercises, because the wrong exercises can place undue stress on the knee. Patients involved in exercise studies demonstrated important improvements in pain, stiffness, and function.
- Weight loss: Moderate recommendation. A healthy body weight reduces the stress on the knee joint, and provides overall health benefits. Patient outcomes were best when a healthy diet was combined with exercise.
- Other non-surgical conservative treatments did not deliver outcome improvements for patients, and the AAOS recommends against their use. The treatments discouraged by the AAOS include acupuncture, electrotherapeutic treatments, and use of glucosamine and chondroitin.
Medical research is constantly improving care outcomes and exploring even better treatments. We will continue to keep you informed about the most recent osteoarthritic knee treatment developments to help you find the most effective treatments to minimize pain, and maximize your quality of life.
“As a hip and knee specialist, an orthopedic surgeon, and the President of Summit Orthopedics, I’m dedicated to providing patients with the highest level of care available. Our expertise extends beyond orthopedic care. We’re enabling people to live the lives they love.”
“An active lifestyle requires superior physical function, and I understand that my patients have exceptionally high standards for their performance and joint health. My goal is to return patients to optimal function so that they can continue to perform and master their personal athletic goals.”
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