Treatment for knee osteoarthritis typically involves a combination of therapies but does not always require medication, according to WebMD. Nondrug treatments include losing excess weight, strengthening the muscles supporting the knee and wearing knee braces. Alternative therapies include acupuncture, topical creams containing capsaicin and nutritional supplements. Physical therapy is often helpful, and surgery is an option when no other treatments provide relief.
In osteoarthritis of the knee, the cartilage between the joints wears away, causing bones to rub against one another, explains WebMD. Symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness.
Medications used to treat arthritic knees include over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, reports WebMD. Additionally, doctors sometimes inject corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid directly into the affected knee.
Surgical options to treat osteoarthritis of the knee include arthroscopy, osteotomy and arthroplasty, according to WebMD. In arthroscopy, which involves very small incision, a surgeon uses an arthroscope to view the joint space, then repairs damaged tissues and removes damaged cartilage and any loose particles. During an osteotomy, a surgeon changes the shape of bones to improve knee alignment. Arthroplasty, or joint replacement surgery, involves replacing the affected joint with artificial parts. It's typically performed on patients over the age of 50 with severe osteoarthritis. The replacement joints typically last for more than 20 years.