Relieving knee pain often requires experimenting with different approaches. It’s always best to start with the least invasive approach available. You’ll know it’s time for knee replacement when all of the other options fail to bring relief and your daily activities are severely curtailed by your knee pain. Here are a few approaches to try.
It is natural to want to avoid movements and activities that make your pain worse. Yet health experts agree that people with knee osteoarthritis can benefit from certain types of exercise. People who stop activity because they feel pain are at risk of having more problems, because avoiding activity can cause muscles and bones to weaken and joints to get stiffer. Safe exercise helps lubricate joints and keeps muscles strong. Done on a regular basis, exercise has been found to help people control pain from knee osteoarthritis. Your doctor may have you see a physical therapist to discuss the types of exercise that will be best for you.
Many types of rubs and creams may give the feeling of warmth but do little to ease the pain felt with knee osteoarthritis. Capsaicin is different. It comes from the common pepper plant and works by getting the body to release chemicals that block pain. It does more than give a feeling of warmth on the skin. Clinical studies show that capsaicin is effective in easing pain from knee osteoarthritis. Be sure to check with your doctor before using it. Also, because it causes irritation, be sure to wash your hands after rubbing it on your knee to keep from accidentally rubbing it in your eyes or on other parts of your skin.
Healthy joints are lubricated and cushioned by fluid inside the joint. Osteoarthritis causes the joints to become sore and stiff because the joint fluid loses its ability to lubricate and cushion.
Doctors have observed good results with a material called hyaluronin, a substance that imitates the fluid in your knee joint. The fluid is injected directly into the sore joint up to three times over a period of several weeks. Some people find that the benefits begin to wear off. When this happens, additional injections can be given every six months.
Many patients who have had these shots report less pain and find it easier to do their activities. However, people with more advanced knee osteoarthritis don’t always benefit from the shots.