Treatment options for Knee OA

By Athlete's Care on July 05, 2016

Toronto Physiotherapy Options for Knee OAKnee arthritis is a common ailment that is caused by degeneration of the cartilage around the knee. It develops in many patients after the age of 50 but it can also occur as a result of participation in various sports. If you have Knee OA, you know that it means pain, stiffness and discomfort. 

Many people might assume that eventual surgery is the only real choice when it comes to treating Knee OA or that your options are limited, but that's not at all the case. In fact, surgery is not the best option in most cases of Knee OA. Your Knee OA treatment at our Toronto clinics may involve physiotherapy, massage therapy or any combination of treatments; your primary healthcare provider can help you determine what course of treatment is right for you. Here is a look at the basic options.

What patient type are you?

Not all cases of Knee OA are the same. Your suitability for any type of OA treatment will depend on your overall condition. Knee OA may be your only major complaint. Or, you may have OA in the knee along with other joints of the body. Knee OA may also co-exist with other chronic conditions affecting other areas of the body such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity or even depression. Any of these factors can affect your course of treatment.

General advice

Because of the nature of Knee OA, there are some basic elements that can help to alleviate the symptoms of Knee OA.

• Losing weight to reduce the stress on the joint can be a very effective way of helping to minimize pain.
• Hot and/or cold packs can reduce swelling and provide temporary relief.
• Regular exercise to strengthen the muscles that support the knee is very important. A Toronto physiotherapy or sports medicine consultation can give you an appropriate regimen to follow.

Pain medication

Medications for relief of pain due to Knee OA can operate using various biological paths. Any course of medication can have side effects, but the benefits are also clear when they are used as directed.

• NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help ease pain. This class of drugs includes aspiring, ibuprofen and naproxen.
• Opioids and other pain relievers are sometimes prescribed.
• Certain classes of antidepressants have also proven useful in some cases to manage chronic pain.

Injectable treatments

Some treatments can be injected directly into the affected area of the knee to help alleviate symptoms and in some cases, may help to slow down the degenerative process.

• Steroid injections, which can help to temporarily reduce pain and stiffness.
• Hyaluronic acid is the natural lubricant at joints, part of what is lost as the knee degenerates in OA. Hyaluronic acid injections can help restore the cushioning effect in the knee joint.
• PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma is an injectible treatment that uses the patient's own blood plasma, enriched with extra concentrations of platelets to speed healing. It has shown very promising results in the tests that have been performed so far.

Non-pharmacological pain relief

When it comes to Knee OA, pain relief can take many forms.

• Medical acupuncture has proven to be of use to many people with Knee OA.

There are a range of non-surgical aids that can help to alleviate pain, restore balance and provide many other benefits.

• Orthotic inserts worn in the shoes can help to correct imbalances in the posture and gait that can exacerbate Knee OA.
• A Toronto physiotherapist or other primary healthcare provider can recommend the use of knee braces to protect the joint while allowing regular use of your limbs.
• Using a cane while walking can also help to take the stress off the knee.

Professional help

There are many medical professionals who can help by providing you with advice and treatments tailored to individual circumstances. The Toronto physiotherapy specialists at our clinics can be your best resource in learning. They can also help to customize a set of exercises that will help improve flexibility and avoid damaging the knee.

A physiotherapist or occupational therapist can also help you with modifying your everyday world to help make your day to day activities easier and safer.


Various types of surgery are available in the treatment of Knee OA, including partial or complete joint replacement with plastic or metal parts. However, surgery is only used as a last resort and is not required in most cases of Knee OA.

Arthroscopy uses a tiny tube that is inserted into the skin to take a look at a damaged knee joint directly. The orthopedic surgeon can then attempt to smooth out rough spots of bone or damaged cartilage. This procedure typically only provides temporary relief.

For more information or to make an appointment for a physiotherapy consultation in Toronto, or to consult a sports medicine doctor or other medical professional to talk about your Knee OA treatment, don't hesitate to contact one of our offices today.