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Drugs for Knee Arthritis

All drugs have potential side effects and simple analgesics are no exception.

  • With time, your body can build up a tolerance, reducing the effects of the pain reliever
  • These medications, although purchased over-the-counter, can also interact with other medications you are taking, such as blood-thinners

Often your General Practioner is the best person to discuss this with as he/she knows you the best and can provide patient specific advice on the best and safest medications for you.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID (eg Neurofen, Voltarin, Celebrex).

NSAIDs can cause side effects including changes in kidney and liver function as well as a reduction in the ability of blood to clot. These effects are usually reversible when the medication is discontinued. These drugs may cause stomach ulcers. They are best used for short periods of time when the arthritis pain is bad.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are tablets that may relieve the pain of osteoarthritis. Supplements sold over-the-counter are usually made from synthetic or animal products. There effectiveness is controversial. They can cause side effects such as headaches, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and skin reactions.


Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory agents that can be injected into the joint. They are given for moderate to severe pain. They can be very useful if there is significant swelling, but are not very helpful if the arthritis affects the joint mechanics. The effects are often not long-lasting, and no more than three injections should be given. With frequent repeated injections or over an extended period of time, joint damage can actually increase rather than decrease.

Viscosupplementation with Hyaluronic Acid

Viscosupplementation is a lubricant for the joint. There is a one off injection available now. Many patients experience improvement for weeks to months, however, and find the process highly worthwhile. Viscosupplementation can be helpful for people whose arthritis has not responded to behavior modification or basic drug treatments. It is most effective if the arthritis is in its early states (mild to moderate). Sometimes, patients feel pain at the injection site, and occasionally the injections result in an increase in pain and swelling.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies include the use of acupuncture and magnetic pulse therapy. Many forms of therapy are unproven, but reasonable to try, provided you find a qualified practitioner and keep your physician informed of your decisions.

Acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate specific body areas to relieve pain or temporarily numb an area. Although it is used in many parts of the world and evidence suggests that it can help ease the pain of arthritis, there are few scientific studies of its effectiveness.

Be sure your acupuncturist is certified, and do not hesitate to ask about his or her sterilization practices.
Magnetic pulse therapy is painless and works by applying a pulsed signal to the knee, which is placed in an electromagnetic field. Like many alternative therapies, magnetic pulse therapy has yet to be proven.

Knee Replacement Surgery, NSW Australia
Sydney Orthopaedic Surgeon, NSW Australia

I am a orthopaedic surgeon that specialises in all aspects of Hip and Knee surgery...

Meet Dr. Jonathan Mulford
Trauma Surgery, NSW Australia
Dr Mulford was awarded a Diploma in Clinical Trials from the University of London in 2008.
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