Knee Arthritis Treatment

A knee that’s swollen, stiff and painful is often due to arthritis—inflammation of the joints. In fact, while any joint in the body can be affected by arthritis, it’s especially common in the knee.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for arthritis, which is progressive—meaning it gets worse over time and can eventually cause permanent damage to the knee joint.

Fortunately, however, today there are many treatment options available to effectively manage the pain of arthritis and help keep you active. These treatments are available at Adventist Health Orthopedic Clinic, where our team of specialists provides both nonsurgical and surgical therapies for knee arthritis with consistently excellent patient outcomes.

The types of knee arthritis

Almost any form of arthritis can affect the knee, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. These include:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the bones where they meet to form joints. The bones rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. The knee is one of the joints most commonly affected by OA
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the membrane that lines the joints
  • Gout, a form of arthritis that occurs when excess uric acid (a bodily waste product circulating in the bloodstream) forms crystals that are deposited into the body’s tissues, including the joints
  • Reactive arthritis, a chronic form of arthritis that often occurs following an infection of the genital, urinary or gastrointestinal system
  • Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is a form of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks the joint tissue
  • Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine; in some people, it begins with pain and swelling in the knee rather than the spine
  • Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis accompanied by the skin disease psoriasis
  • Infectious arthritis, also called septic arthritis, refers to arthritis that is caused by an infection in the joint

Symptoms of knee arthritis

Regardless of the type of knee arthritis, the symptoms can include:

  • Knee pain while standing, walking short distances, or going up or down stairs
  • Startup pain and/or stiffness when you move from a sitting position
  • Stiffness in your knee in the morning that may subside as you begin to move around
  • Swelling in one or more areas of the knee
  • A grating sensation or crunching feeling when you use your knee

Treatments for knee arthritis

When it comes to treating knee arthritis, there are many options available today—both nonsurgical and surgical. The appropriate treatment depends on the type and severity of arthritis you have, along with your general health, lifestyle and personal preferences.

  • Nonsurgical treatment of knee arthritis may include:
    • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
    • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation in the joint
    • Topical analgesics (pain medication creams that are absorbed into the skin)
    • Physical therapy or exercise programs to improve flexibility, build strength and maintain muscle tone
    • Assistive devices such as canes or walkers that make walking easier and safer
    • Footwear and insoles to help reduce pain and improve walking
    • Knee braces for arthritis with associated knee instability; a knee brace can reduce pain, improve stability and reduce the risk of falling
    • Lifestyle modifications:
      • Maintaining a healthy weight (studies show that weight loss of just 11 pounds can reduce a woman’s risk of developing knee arthritis by 50 percent)
      • Managing pain appropriately
      • Changing activities to lessen stress on the hip
      • Exercising to build strength
  • Surgical treatment of knee arthritis may include:
    • Joint replacement surgery—When symptoms of knee OA are not controlled with conservative treatments, replacing the joint with a prosthesis is often effective.
      • Partial knee replacement —In about 30 percent of people with knee OA, the disease is limited to just one or two compartments of the knee; a partial knee replacement may offer the same improvement and function as full knee replacement but with less trauma, faster recovery and better range of motion
      • Total knee replacement —If you have severe arthritis of the knee, a full knee replacement can be the most effective treatment option. At, we use a minimally invasive knee replacement technique called “quadriceps sparing” which enables your surgeon to implant your knee joint replacement withoutdislocating the knee or making a large incision in the quadriceps muscle and tendon as is done in traditional surgery. This results in less pain, less swelling and a quicker recovery after surgery
      • Osteotomy and joint-preserving surgery—Osteotomy is a procedure in which bones are cut and realigned to improve joint alignment; in younger, active people with knee OA, osteotomy may delay the need for joint replacement by years
      • Joint fusion—In this procedure, the bones that form the knee joint are surgically prepared and held in place with screws, pins or plates until they fuse into a single, rigid unit. Joint fusion can be considered a salvage procedure when knee replacement fails

Want to learn more about treatments for knee arthritis at Adventist Health Orthopedic Clinic?

Simply call us to schedule an appointment at the location that’s most convenient for you at Portland: (503) 261-6961.