arthritic knee pain

People with chronic arthritis are faced with a terrible choice: do they suffer from pain every day, or do they take pain relievers with scary side effects? Unfortunately, the pain medications used most often, NSAIDS like diclofenac, ibuprofen or naproxen, can damage the digestive system. They are also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. How could a person manage arthritic knee pain without such consequences?

Finding Solutions for Arthritic Knee Pain:

Q. I am a doctor who has suffered dual meniscus knee surgeries. Corticosteroid injection therapy was useless for my knee pain. In addition, surgery was ineffective in terms of reducing pain and discomfort; the knee condition worsened after surgery. If this were not a medical procedure, I would have asked for a refund.

I’ve used MSM and glucosamine, but they take a long time before any effect is apparent. For fast results, acupuncture seems to be the gold standard in therapy. Along with ice and medical massage, acupuncture gave me the best result. I was so impressed that I studied acupuncture and now use it in my practice.

What Works and What Doesn’t for Arthritic Knee Pain:

A. Recent research supports your experience. For example, a double-blind placebo-controlled study published in JAMA (May 16, 2017) found that the steroid triamcinolone injected into the knee worked no better than saline injections for arthritis pain relief. When knees were injected with steroid, however, they lost cartilage more quickly.

As for surgery, a recent analysis of previous studies found no long-term advantages over conservative management strategies (Brignardello-Petersen et al, BMJ Open, May 11, 2017). A group including surgeons, physiotherapists and patients has just issued guidelines discouraging arthroscopic surgery for knee arthritis and meniscus tears (Siemieniuk et al, BMJ, May 10, 2017).

Acupuncture for Arthritic Knee Pain:

We are glad to hear you have been so pleased with the results of acupuncture. A recent randomized controlled trial found that self-administered acupressure was better than “usual care” for older individuals with arthritic knee pain (Li et al, Arthritis Care & Research, online April 24, 2017). Oddly, sham acupressure (pressure on non-standard points) worked as well as the real deal. Readers who would like to learn more about acupuncture and other non-drug approaches to managing arthritis pain will find details in our online Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis.

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  1. ladyliza
    Los Angeles

    A few years ago I had pain in both knees. I took off some weight which helped, but I still had pain. After 2 mri’s and no direction was given..just arthritis. So I was telling my physician about it and he asked if he could inject some vitamins into the knee as he thought it might help. I didn’t want to have a knee replacement which I figured was coming down the pike, so I said, yes. At the time I didn’t notice much difference but all of a sudden one day months later I realized I had no more knee pain. Both knees have been pain free for about 5 years. The doctor didn’t use the term, “Prolotherapy”, but that is essentially what it was. If you suffer from knee pain, you may want to find a practitioner because it works.

  2. Shirley

    My problem is how to sleep without sleeping pills.

  3. Shirley
    Spring, TX

    How can I learn how to self-administer acupressure for knee osteoarthritis as mentioned in your article? Do I have to go to a specialist?

  4. bev

    check out platelet rich plasma induction. Doesn’t cure arthritis, but can help with the pain. Not FDA approved yet, but very promising!

  5. Deloris

    I tried acupuncture for my arthritic back and knees. It was great while I came for twice weekly treatments, but the pain relief stopped when I quit going. Acupuncture is unreasonably expensive in my area. Over-the-counter pills and lotions are much cheaper and are just as effective if used regularly.

  6. Ken
    Washington State

    Acupuncture and Dry Needling work because they can break up Myofascial tissue and, more importantly, the Trigger Points that the Myofascial tissues surround. These are what cause knee pain, neck, wrist, elbow and shoulder pain and pretty much anything that causes pain labeled “impingement” or “osteoarthritis” (trigger points make the muscles tight and the constant pressure on the joints causes erosion of the cartilage). Most doctors don’t know what they are or how to treat them as evidenced by the doctor in this article. I know this from undergoing more than 2 years of dry needling. The big problem with dry needling is finding someone competent to administer it. In my state the legislature made it illegal for Physical Therapist to do it and the result is that there are no more skilled persons that can perform it locally. The Doctor of Physical Therapy that I used prior had more than 4000 hours of training but the people allowed to do it now are amateurs at best and probably do more harm than good.
    Pretty much everyone has trigger points and I think it’s a symptom of an autoimmune condition brought on by our overly refined western diet and food sensitivities such as my own sensitivity to nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, paprika, and others).

  7. Brian

    For any joint pain, a lot of the pain could be caused by Inflammation. Gluten in bread or wheat products can make inflammation a lot worse, so I went on a gluten free diet.
    Also I take 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric with sprinkle of black pepper, in water sweeten with honey daily to pain eases. I have had great results by doing this.

    • shirley

      will accupuncture help with my sleeping problem. I want to get off of sleeping pills.

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