Physical Therapy and Other Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments to relieve knee arthritis pain and other symptoms and help you function better include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid shots
  • Medications to relieve pain and swelling.

Physical Therapy

Our knee arthritis physical therapy program focuses on improving range of motion before strengthening, because our research shows this is what works best.

We start with therapy to straighten (extend) your knee first. Then you’ll work on bending your knee (flexion). Once you have good range of motion, you’ll work on strengthening your knee.

Our specialized physical therapy program helps most patients feel and function better without knee replacement surgery.

Your personal physical therapist will customize the program for you and guide you through it. You’ll complete most of the therapy at home, with periodic visits to Shelbourne Knee Center.

Physical Therapy After Surgery

If physical therapy doesn’t help you enough and you have knee replacement surgery, the physical therapy will help you do better and recovery faster. Post-op physical therapy helps you improve your range of motion (and knee strength so you can get back to living.

Relief from Pain and Stiffness During Physical Therapy

If you have chronic knee stiffness or severe knee pain, we may also recommend:

  • Using a passive knee extension device to improve range of motion
  • Using ice, compression, and elevation to reduce pain and swelling while working on straightening and bending your knee
  • Relieving pain with corticosteroid shots or medications.

Corticosteroid Shots

Corticosteroid shots help relieve pain and inflammation in the knee. Usually, the medicine in these shots is a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. They are also called cortisone shots or steroids.

We usually use corticosteroid shots to relieve pains so you can do your physical therapy. The shot is given directly into your knee. If you don’t want a shot, we can give you oral steroids.

Pain and Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Over-the-counter pain medicines can relieve knee pain and inflammation from arthritis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the best type of medication for relieving knee pain from arthritis. They include:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin or others)
  • Naproxen (Aleve or others).

For severe knee pain or if you have stomach problems from over the-counter NSAIDs, our orthopedic surgeons can give you prescription anti-inflammatory medications.