Non-Surgical Treatments For Knee Joint Pain

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Non-surgical knee pain treatment offers a range of effective options to help individuals find knee joint pain relief from discomfort and improve their overall quality of life. Whether caused by age-related wear and tear, injury, or underlying medical conditions, knee pain can significantly impact daily activities. Fortunately, there are various non-invasive approaches that can alleviate pain, enhance mobility, and promote healing. This article delves into non-surgical treatments, exploring techniques such as physical therapy, pain management strategies, braces, lifestyle modifications, and alternative therapies. Discover how these methods can provide relief, enhance knee joint pain relief, and help you regain your active lifestyle.

Medications to Manage Pain


Various forms of medication can be used to help ease the discomfort associated with knee pain, such as over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and injections. Knee pain can begin mildly and worsen with time. The type of medication utilized to treat knee pain will be dependent on the source and intensity of the pain. There are several potential causes of knee pain, including overuse, arthritis, Baker’s cyst, infection in the joint, bursitis, torn cartilage, strain, or sprain.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – Individuals with mild to moderate knee pain may use over-the-counter medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen, to alleviate the discomfort. NSAIDs reduce swelling and help control pain. OTC variations of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (commonly known as Motrin and Advil) and naproxen sodium (usually called Aleve) are available for treating mild to moderate pain.

Acetaminophen – Acetaminophen is a medication that can be used to both reduce pain and lower fever. It is commonly taken to treat pain brought on by osteoarthritis, a medical condition that affects the joints, including the knee. Additionally, acetaminophen can be used to manage other mild to moderate pain.

Prescription medicines – A person suffering from more intense pain may need a stronger medication, which their doctor can provide. These could be NSAIDs with a higher dosage, or COX-2 inhibitors, also known as coxibs. Some examples of NSAIDs that are prescribed are high dose ibuprofen, high dose naproxen, and diclofenac.

Lifestyle Modifications to Help You Cope With Knee Pain


When you receive a diagnosis of knee pain, it may be necessary to alter certain elements of your lifestyle. However, this does not necessarily mean that your mobility will be reduced. In fact, the adjustments you make in order to reduce discomfort and stiffness may even be beneficial to you in other ways, such as giving you a boost in energy and decreasing the likelihood of developing other health issues.

Manage your weight – Being overweight is a prevalent issue that can have a negative impact on one’s bone and joint health. Reducing unnecessary weight can reduce the strain on joints and may even slow down deterioration of those joints. Weight loss is often difficult when joint movement and function are impaired, however, a health care team can help you set attainable goals and devise a plan to reach those goals.

Exercise – Exercising can do more than just help with weight loss. It builds strength and flexibility, lessens pain, and helps fight off the effects of arthritis. Depending on the degree of your joint pain, going to the gym or attending a class may be difficult. However, understanding the exercises that relax the muscles, increase blood flow, and let your joints move through their full range of motion can help reduce the pain.

Eat healthy – Adjusting one’s diet to include more anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can be an effective way to reduce chronic joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as fish, chia seeds, soybeans and walnuts can help to reduce inflammation in the joints, which can ease pain and stiffness.

Avoid stress – Stress can cause a physiological reaction that weakens the immune system, leading to increased inflammation. This may trigger arthritic pain, making it difficult to manage when faced with life changes like moving, loss, financial troubles, or even the prospect of a vacation. To help reduce stress, one may want to try meditation, yoga, or other forms of relaxation.

Knee Bracing

A knee brace can be used to help manage the discomfort associated with knee osteoarthritis. This type of brace can distribute weight away from the most damaged area of the knee, potentially reducing pain and improving mobility. There are different kinds of braces used for treating knee arthritis; one example is the unloader brace, which redistributes weight away from the affected area.

Osteoarthritis is a disorder that impacts the entire joint. It is typically recognized as a type of arthritis that commonly affects the knees of older individuals. The damage inflicted by the disease is often uneven, leading to misalignment in the knee, which can make the knee appear bowed or knock-kneed.

As osteoarthritis progresses, the misalignment of the joint worsens. Wearing a knee brace can reduce the pressure on the affected area and alleviate pain. A knee brace can also help to provide more stability when standing or moving around, especially if the knee feels like it might give out.

Knee Physiotherapy


Physiotherapy aims to make it simpler to complete everyday tasks and activities. This could include helping with activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or getting out of or into bed. Physiotherapists provide knee pain treatments to assist with movement issues connected to knee pain which may also help to reduce pain. It is likely that you will only be able to have a few visits with a physiotherapist.

Exercise is typically a major component of physiotherapy. This can include stretching, developing core and strength, and walking. Your physiotherapist can teach you exercises that may help with knee pain and increase your ability to be active. In addition, you will learn exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Your physiotherapist will collaborate with you to formulate a tailored plan of care that is specific to your medical issue and personal requirements. The aims may include reducing any pain or swelling, and improving your suppleness, strength, poise and stamina.

Pain Procedures and Injections to Relieve Knee Pain

When it comes to treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee, injections are not the primary option. Other options that are likely to be recommended by medical professionals include: losing weight if needed, physical therapy to increase strength in the legs and core, regular exercise to reduce stiffness, mind-body techniques to create strategies for dealing with pain, topical anti-inflammatory creams, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Your doctor will begin by administering a dose of anesthetic to numb the knee. Additionally, they may use a needle to extract any additional fluid in the joint. Following this, a pain-relieving injection will be administered near the kneecap and should not cause any discomfort.

Non-surgical treatments for knee joint pain are effective in reducing pain and improving function. These treatments include weight loss, physical therapy, medications such as NSAIDs, steroid injections, and regenerative medicine. Non-surgical treatments can be used for as long as possible, and in some cases, can delay or avoid the need for surgery. It is recommended to work with an orthopaedic doctor to determine the best non-surgical treatment plan for each individual patient.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are non-surgical treatments for knee joint pain?

Non-surgical treatments for knee joint pain encompass various approaches such as physical therapy, medications, injections, and lifestyle modifications to alleviate pain and improve mobility.

How does physical therapy help with knee pain?

Physical therapy involves targeted exercises and stretches that aim to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, enhance flexibility, and improve overall joint stability.

What types of medications are used for knee pain relief?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and topical creams are commonly used to manage knee pain and inflammation.

What are the benefits of knee injections for pain relief?

Injections such as corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid can provide localized pain relief and lubrication to the knee joint, reducing discomfort and improving mobility.

Can lifestyle changes help manage knee pain?

Yes, lifestyle modifications like maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, and adopting joint-friendly activities can play a significant role in managing knee pain.

How long does it take to see results from non-surgical treatments?

Results vary depending on the treatment method and individual factors. Some patients experience relief within a few weeks, while others may take longer.

Are there any risks associated with non-surgical treatments?

Non-surgical treatments generally have minimal risks, but some individuals may experience side effects such as allergic reactions to medications or temporary discomfort from injections.

When should I consider non-surgical treatments over surgery?

Non-surgical treatments are typically recommended as the initial approach for managing knee pain. They may be suitable for individuals who want to avoid surgery or need to improve their overall knee joint health before considering surgical options.



Dr Yong Ren’s Profile

Dr Yong Ren graduated from the National University of Singapore’s Medical faculty and embarked on his orthopaedic career soon after. Upon completion of his training locally, he served briefly as an orthopaedic trauma surgeon in Khoo Teck Puat hospital before embarking on sub-specialty training in Switzerland at the famed Inselspital in Bern.

He underwent sub-specialty training in pelvic and spinal surgery, and upon his return to Singapore served as head of the orthopaedic trauma team till 2019. He continues to serve as Visiting Consultant to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Well versed in a variety of orthopaedic surgeries, he also served as a member of the country council for the local branch of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (Trauma) in Singapore. He was also involved in the training of many of the young doctors in Singapore and was appointed as an Assistant Professor by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Prior to his entry into the private sector, he also served as core faculty for orthopaedic resident training by the National Healthcare Group.

Dr Yong Ren brings to the table his years of experience as a teacher and trainer in orthopaedic surgery. With his expertise in minimally invasive fracture surgery, pelvic reconstructive surgery, hip and knee surgery as well as spinal surgery, he is uniquely equipped with the tools and expertise necessary to help you on your road to recovery.

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Sarah Taylor

Obstetrics & Gynaecology