Latest Tips on Managing Knee OsteoarthritisThis is a review article on the nonoperative treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA). It was written by physicians for physicians. The value of patient education is number one. Since there's no cure for OA, learning how to manage the symptoms is important.
Controlling pain and improving function are the two most common goals in treating patients with OA. Self-help starts with exercise and weight control. It's been proven that adults who exercise and lose weight have 50 percent less risk of developing OA.
Bracing and shoe inserts to unload the knee may be advised for some patients. Even using a cane can help slow the progression of this disease. Less load means less pain, which means improved activity level.
Tylenol remains the top choice in pain relievers. It is safe when used as directed, and it's not habit forming or addictive. Drugs such as ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may be a better choice for patients with severe pain. Topical (rub on) creams such as Capsaicin have been shown to help, too.
Besides over-the-counter and prescription drugs, nutritional supplements can help. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate work to protect the joint cartilage and reduce pain. What about steroid injections? They can be used up to three times in a year when a joint is painful and swollen.
Finally, the authors review the use of acupuncture and lubricants injected into the knee. All of these treatments can be tried before patients turn to surgery. Sometimes several nonoperative treatments are used. Relieving symptoms helps patients stay active and improves their quality of life.
Susan S. Wu, MD, and Kenneth Tuan, MD. Current Concepts in Nonoperative Management of Knee Osteoarthritis. In Orthopedics. February 2005. Vol. 28. No. 2. Pp. 134-139.
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