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.

 

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  • Angela Voight, M.D.

    “My goal is to help people return to the activities they love as quickly and safely as possible. I want patients to feel like they are well cared for, that their concerns are heard, and that we work together to find the best treatment plan.”

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  • Daren Wickum, M.D.

    “Quality of life really boils down to remaining active. Keeping patients mobile keeps me on my toes. So does keeping up with my son.”

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  • David Kittleson, M.D.

    “Participating in triathlons gives me a tangible sense what an active lifestyle can do to bones and joints. That gives me a firsthand understanding I take into every patient appointment and surgical procedure.”

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  • Eric Khetia, M.D.

    “My goal is to lead an active, healthy life and to allow my patients to do the same. Restoring them to pre-injury levels of functioning and allowing them to pursue the activities they enjoy inspires me.”

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  • Jack Drogt, M.D.

    “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.”

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  • Jack Skendzel, M.D.

    “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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  • Jerome Perra, M.D.

    “My goal is always to return the patient to his or her highest level of function, and to individualize post-operative
    and rehabilitation expectations.”

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  • Kristoffer Breien, M.D.

    “I tend to be more conservative in my approach, reserving surgery as a last option. In essence, I strive to care for patients and their problems in the same manner my family and I expect to be treated when we seek medical attention.”

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  • Peter Daly, M.D.

    “I understand the concern of athletes to get back to their sport. And I work in combination with our therapists
    to get them fully active.”

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  • James Gannon, M.D.

    “Leading an active lifestyle provides an additional motivation to provide orthopedic care that will allow patients to return to the activities they enjoy.”

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  • Jeffrey Furmanek, D.O.

    “My training has taught me to understand that the human body is a complex sum of its parts with an innate ability to heal. My role as an orthopedic surgeon can be an important part of this natural process.”

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