If your goal is to postpone knee replacement surgery as long as possible, there are a number of things you can do to help manage your pain and stay active (via HealthPartners).
As counterintuitive as it may seem, exercising and moving your joints, in spite of the pain, can actually stimulate the flow of fluid around your knees, strengthen the muscles that support your knees, reduce stiffness, and increase flexibility. Stick to low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, strength training, and cycling. Any exercise that strengthens your core, hips, and legs, without damaging your knees any further, should help manage your pain.
Working with a physical therapist to get a personalized exercise plan you can do at home can also have long-term benefits — especially if you’re consistent about doing the exercises on your own. And if you’re even a little overweight, consider losing a few pounds. According to HealthPartners, even losing one pound eliminates four pounds of pressure on your knees, which is pretty impressive.
Cortisone shots and other injections that include hyaluronic acid (HA) help lubricate the inside of the knee and may provide short-term relief — up to about three months — from arthritis pain, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.
As for medications, steer clear of opioids if at all possible; they’re addictive, and aren’t proven to help long-term knee pain. And check with your doctor even before using over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen because they can have side effects.