Non-surgical alternatives

Understanding Your Options 

Knee pain doesn't necessarily mean knee surgery.  There are many options for you to discuss with your doctor or surgeon to alleviate knee pain. 

Non-Surgical Alternatives

Before deciding on knee surgery, your doctor may try several knee surgery alternatives to relieve the pain and inflammation in your knee.

Lifestyle Modification

The first alternative to knee surgery most doctors try is lifestyle modification. This may include weight loss, avoiding activities such as running and twisting which can aggravate the knee injury, modifying exercise to no and low-impact, and other changes in your daily routine to reduce stress on your knee.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

Exercise and physical therapy may be prescribed to improve strength and flexibility. Exercises may include strengthening exercises such as riding a stationary bike, and stretching exercises such as flexing the ankle up and down, tightening and holding thigh muscles, sliding the heel forward on the floor, leg lifts, and knee extensions. Always obtain professional advice before embarking on any exercises if you have knee problems. It is important that exercises be done in the correct way, bearing in mind your specific needs and condition. Exercise can strengthen your leg muscles and reduce your pain. If you really need knee surgery, this may not help, but many forms of knee pain can be mitigated by exercise.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

Arthritis ("literally 'joint inflammation'") pain is caused by inflammation in the knee as the bones rub against each other due to eroded cartilage. Reducing the inflammation of the tissue in the knee can provide temporary relief from pain and delay knee surgery.

Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to decrease swelling in the joint. Medications may also be used to reduce inflammation, reducing pain temporarily. Injections may also be used to reduce pain; in this procedure a powerful anti-inflammatory agent is injected directly into the joint.


A dietary supplement may improve the joint’s mobility and decrease pain from arthritis of the knee. A dietary supplement can slow the deterioration of cartilage in the joint, reducing the pain of bone on bone.

CAUTION: do not use any medicine or injection, whether prescription or available at a pharmacy or shop, without discussing it with your doctor. Even products that are labelled "natural" or are available without prescription may have an effect on your health and other medications you may be taking.

Joint Fluid Therapy

While medications and supplements can be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain and help you delay or avoid knee surgery, medicine is not the only alternative, and may not be suitable for you, or provide the relief you require. A further option is fluid therapy.

In this procedure, joint fluid therapy, a series of injections is made directly into the knee joints. This therapy is designed to reduce pain by improving lubrication in the knee, replacing the synovial fluid that lubricates the knee. Hyaluronate is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis knee pain in patients who have failed to get adequate relief from simple painkillers or from exercise and physical therapy.

Solutions can be injected, often made of natural chemicals found in the body and in particular in the synovial fluids.

The body’s own hyaluronan acts like a lubricant and shock absorber in synovial fluid of a healthy joint. Osteoarthritis reduces your synovial fluid’s ability to protect and lubricate your joint.

A doctor will administer the solution into your knee at the frequency set by the specific product used. This helps to re-lubricate your knee and reduce the pain of osteoarthritis, possibly delaying or helping you avoid knee surgery.


A brace may be used to provide external stability to the knee joint. Braces are devices made of plastic, metal, leather and/or foam and are designed to stabilise a joint, reduce pain and inflammation and strengthen the muscles of the knee. By putting pressure on the sides of the joint, the brace causes the joint to realign, which in turn decreases the contact between the two rough bone surfaces and reduces the pain while increasing mobility. Your doctor may refer you to an orthotist, who is a healthcare professional in the field of braces and other devices, to assist with the choice of the correct brace for you.

As you can see there are several non-surgical options for treating osteoarthritis. These methods can delay knee surgery by providing short-term relief. All treatment options have benefits and risks. Please discuss the options with your doctor, to find the solution, or solutions, that are suitable for you and your healthcare.