There currently are no FDA approved medications to treat cartilage conditions. Some studies have demonstrated that the use of the nutritional supplement glucosamine might slow the destructive changes that occur in articular cartilage. Medications labelled as arthritis medicine target the pain and symptoms such as swelling and stiffness that are associated with osteoarthritis. Patients and their doctors should work collaboratively to determine the most effective medication to relieve those symptoms while causing the least side effects. Options include pain relievers such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen, naproxen, or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Carrying extra weight has been shown to exert a greater demand on the joint and can lead to a greater deterioration and progression of knee arthritis. This often results in a very cyclic pattern. Activity decreases as the result of the pain, stiffness, and swelling experienced in the joint and the reduction in activity often leads to even more weight gain and more stress and strain on the joints. Measures should be taken to find an exercise regimen that will promote activity and weight loss without triggering the pain associated with high impact exercise. Restoring strength and flexibility in the muscles from the back and pelvis through the entire leg can assist in reducing the workload directly on the knee/joint.
Local Pain Management
Cold therapy is often used in the early stage of an injury to decrease the associated swelling and pain. Heat therapy is often used in later or more chronic phases of knee problems to increase the blood flow and diminish stiffness and pain.
Cortisone injections have been used for many, many years to reduce knee pain.
Viscosupplementation involves injecting a preparation of hyaluronic acid into the knee joint to improve the activity of the knee and to diminish the pain experienced at rest.
There are several bracing options that are available to manage the pain, stiffness, and swelling associated with knee cartilage conditions. An unloader brace transfers a portion of the load/weight to the unaffected side of the joint. Other braces are designed to help control abnormal movements of the knee.
The knee experiences a very high workload just from the activities of daily living alone. The muscles of the knee serve as shock absorbers for the joint and an exercise regimen designed by a physical therapist targeting the muscles that serve the back, pelvis, hip, and knee are important to build strength and prevent further damage or pain.