Research Evaluates Best Treatment For Knee Pain

Of the many medications designed to relieve the painful symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, which are most effective? When researchers compared 10 common options for effective pain relief, they found a clear winner.


The pain and stiffness of arthritic knees can make it challenging to get through the day. If you are 45 years old or older, there’s up to a 40 percent chance that you are experiencing the stiffness, inflammation, and limited motion that comes with knee osteoarthritis. After age 65, this knee condition becomes even more prevalent.

Presently, there is no cure for knee osteoarthritis and there are no proven prevention measures. However, a number of medical treatments are available to relieve knee pain. With many treatments to choose from, how do you know which option is best for you?

Researchers at Tufts Medical Center wanted to know which medications were most effective to relieve the pain of this knee condition. They evaluated 10 common options to see which options were most effective to ease pain. They studied the most commonly used over-the-counter medications, including ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen, as well as injections. The results? Among these treatments, there is a clear winner, and a clear loser.

  • The clear winner: injections. Cortico-steroid and hyaluronic acid injections deliver medicine directly into the joint. Researchers found that this treatment provided the most pain relief of any option they studied.
  • The clear loser: acetaminophen. Research results showed that acetaminophen was the least effective option. In fact, acetaminophen was the only treatment that did not show clinically significant improvement of pain.

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and work with you to determine the treatment that is best for your individual condition. In addition to medical treatment, there are lifestyle steps you can take to control the pain of knee osteoarthritis—and to improve the effectiveness of any medications you may be taking. Patients who follow good habits (as nonsmokers and moderate drinkers), and maintain healthy weight with regular exercise are more likely to experience the best results from doctor-supervised medication.

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of only two surgery centers nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

More resources for you

Share this on
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterPin on Pinterest
  • Amy Beacom, M.D.

    “Staying active has always been important to me — in and out of the water. That’s why I’ve dedicated my practice to treating running and swimming orthopedic injuries. So my patients are able to stay active too.”

    More about this expert

  • 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.”

    More about this expert

  • 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.”

    More about this expert

  • James Gannon MD

    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.”

    More about this expert

  • Jeffrey Furmanek DO

    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.”

    More about this expert

  • Eric Khetia MD

    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.”

    More about this expert

  • Jerome Perra MD

    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.”

    More about this expert

  • Kirk Scofield MD
  • 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.”

    More about this expert

  • Angela Voight MD

    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.”

    More about this expert

  • Daren Wickum MD

    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.”

    More about this expert

Also see...