SHARE 
TEXT SIZE 
Home : Specialty Care : Orthopedics : Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-Surgical Treatments

Orthopedic Program

Meriter Hospital, 9 Tower
202 S. Park Street
Madison, WI 53715
Telephone: (608) 417-5365

Learn more about our Orthopedic specialists:

Bone & Joint Surgery Associates

Meriter Orthopedic Clinic


UW Health Orthopedics

Our surgeons prefer non-surgical solutions. If surgery is the right approach, our team of physicians has skills in the latest techniques to effectively correct musculoskeletal problems. Before trying the following treatments, please make sure to discuss with a physician.

Lifestyle Modification

            
The first alternative to knee surgery is lifestyle modification. This may include weight loss, avoiding activities such as running and twisting which can aggravate the knee injury, modifying exercise to no- and low-impact, and other changes in your daily routine to reduce stress on your knee.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

          
Exercise and physical therapy may be prescribed to improve the strength and flexibility of your hip and other lower extremity muscles. Your exercise program may include riding a stationary bike, light weight training and flexibility exercises. An aquatic therapy program is especially effective for the treatment of arthritis since it allows mild resistance while removing weight bearing stresses.

Weight Loss

              
Too much pressure on the knee can be an instant cause of knee pain. One pound of weight loss takes four pounds off of the joint. Weight should be proportional to height. 

Anti-inflammatory Medications

         
Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to decrease swelling in the joint. These medications may be used to reduce inflammation, reducing pain temporarily. A corticosteroid injection may also be used to reduce pain; in this procedure a powerful anti-inflammatory agent is injected directly into the joint.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin

    
A dietary supplement called glucosamine/chondroitin may improve the joint's mobility and decrease pain from arthritis of the knee. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can slow the deterioration of cartilage in the joint, reducing the pain of bone on bone. Both are naturally occurring molecules in the body. Glucosamine is thought to promote the growth of new cartilage and repair of damaged cartilage, while chondroitin is believed to promote water retention, improving the elasticity of cartilage, and also to inhibit cartilage-destroying enzymes.

Corticosteroid Injection

         
Powerful anti-inflammatory agent injected directly into the joint to decrease inflammation.

Joint Fluid Therapy

          
While medications and supplements can be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain and help you delay or avoid knee surgery, there are trade-offs. Drug therapies may have side effects, and there is a limit to how much pain reduction can occur.


In a procedure called joint fluid therapy, a series of injections is made directly into the knee joints. This therapy is designed to reduce pain by improving lubrication in the knee, replacing the synovial fluid that lubricates the knee. Hyaluronate is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis knee pain in patients who have failed to get adequate relief from simple painkillers or from exercise and physical therapy.

Knee Braces and Sleeves

           
A brace may be used to provide external stability to the knee joint. Braces are devices made of plastic, metal, leather and/or foam and are designed to stabilize a joint, reduce pain and inflammation and strengthen the muscles of the knee. By putting pressure on the sides of the joint, the brace causes the joint to realign, which in turn decreases the contact between the two rough bone surfaces and reduces the pain while increasing mobility.

Shoe Modifications

       
Helps to prevent arthritis and be able to walk in a naturally aligned position.

Cane or Walker

     
Used to assist with walking and improve mobility.