Knee Pain - Treatment

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What is the treatment for knee pain?

Treatments for knee pain are as varied as the conditions that can cause the pain.


Medications might be prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition or for pain relief.

Physical therapy

Sometimes strengthening the muscles around the knee will make it more stable and help guarantee the best mechanical movements. This can help avoid injuries or further worsening of an injury.


Injecting medications directly into your knee might help in certain situations. The two most common injections are corticosteroids and lubricants. Corticosteroid injections can help arthritis and other inflammations of the knee. They usually need to be repeated every few months. Lubricants that are similar to the fluid already in your knee joint can help with movement and pain.


Knee operations range from arthroscopic knee surgery to total knee replacement. Arthroscopic knee surgery is a very common surgical procedure that allows the physician look inside your knee through a few small holes and a fiberoptic camera. The surgeon can repair many of the injuries and remove small pieces of loose bones or cartilage. This is a common outpatient procedure.

Partial knee replacement: The surgeon replaces the damaged portions of the knee with plastic and metal parts. Because only part of the knee joint is replaced, this procedure has a shorter recovery then a total knee replacement.

Total knee replacement: In this procedure, the knee is replaced with an artificial joint. It requires a major surgery and hospitalization.

Other therapies

Acupuncture has shown some relieve of knee pain, especially in patients with osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have shown mixed results in research studies.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: michelle c, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I take ibuprofen 800 mg and have been soaking in the tub.

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Comment from: Marianna, Female (Patient) Published: December 18

My experience could possibly save you a lot of grief. Almost 2 years ago I consulted a surgeon at a local orthopedic practice because I had had worsening pain in my right knee. On the basis of x-rays, he said I had grade 4 osteoarthritis, for which knee replacement was indicated, but also that the injection of hyaluronic acid might help. It did briefly, and then, unaccountably, on the second shot, I developed a severe muscle spasm that prevented me from bending my knee (and also sleeping). Now knee replacement looked like the next step. I then went to see another surgeon who gave me a cortisone shot, which eased the muscle spasm. He also suggested that I ride my stationary bike regularly, saying that this would improve the flow of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. Long story short, after a second shot of cortisone, my knee was better than before, and it has been okay for a whole year without any additional treatment. The moral of this story is that x-rays alone are no criterion and that even arthritic knees can function surprisingly well. Finally, I have lived in a third-floor walk-up apartment for 40 years and done all my errands on foot (I don't drive). Possibly that has played a role in giving me fairly strong leg muscles. Knee replacement is a very big deal. It seems to work out okay for most people, but I am tremendously grateful that I didn't have to go through it.

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