Relieving Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Relieving Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

What Can I Do to Relieve My Knee Osteoarthritis?

Whether you’re having trouble going up and down stairs or you feel like you’re missing out on doing what you love, there are some changes you can make to help reduce your knee pain. Little changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference in caring for your knee, from maintaining a healthy weight to exercising correctly.

The treatment options outlined below are recommended by the RACGP Guidelines for the management of Knee Osteoarthritis.1

doctor talking to patient

Working with Your General Practitioner (GP)

Usually your General Practitioner (GP) will be the first point of contact to diagnose Knee Osteoarthritis and develop a treatment plan with you. Your GP may recommend certain exercises for you, or refer you to another healthcare professional, such as a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist to put together a more detailed exercise plan. The goal of an exercise plan in Knee Osteoarthritis is to help strengthen the muscles that support your knee. It is really important to make sure to perform any exercises correctly so as to not strain any muscles. In addition to prescribing exercises, your GP may also suggest other treatment and pain management options.

man biking

Manage Your Weight

Managing your weight is another key factor to incorporate into your Knee Osteoarthritis treatment plan. For every 1 kilogram of body weight that you are able to lose, there is about a 4 kg reduction in the pressure placed on the knee joint with each step you take. So, losing just 5 kg takes around 20 kg of pressure off the knee joint when you walk.2

Other Treatment Options

man and woman walking


Exercise will be key in caring for your knee. Your doctor or physiotherapist will recommend certain exercises that help strengthen the muscles that support your knee. It is important to ensure you perform the exercise correctly and don’t strain any muscles.

man stretching out woman


Physiotherapy can be a very important treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis. Typically, this treatment involves exercise programs to improve your mobility and strengthen your muscles, joint manipulation and mobilisation to reduce your pain and stiffness as well as muscle re-education to improve your control.1

woman holding knee

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy may be appropriate as a short-term treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis. This therapy includes stretching, soft tissue and/or joint mobilisation and/or manipulation.1

man icing knee

Heat Therapy

Heat Therapy is a self-management home treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis. This therapy is a supplementary treatment for pain management and involves the application of hot packs over the source of knee pain.1

woman consoling man taking medicine


Different types of medication can be prescribed by your GP to help relieve pain arising from your Knee Osteoarthritis. Medications can include non-steroidal anti-flammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or paracetamol for short periods, both of which are taken orally for short periods. It is important that you follow the instructions of your GP before taking any of these medications.1

empty syringe

Steroid Injection

A Corticosteroid Injection is another treatment option used for the short-term relief associated with Knee Osteoarthritis pain. Your healthcare professional may find it appropriate to offer an intra-articular corticosteroid injection to help provide short-term pain relief if previously prescribed medications are not relieving your knee pain.1

surgeons performing surgery


Knee Replacement Surgery is used to treat Knee Osteoarthritis when other non-operative treatment options have been attempted and are no longer effective. Your GP will make the decision to refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon to explore if surgery could be an appropriate treatment option if they identify you have severe osteoarthritis for which non-operative treatments are ineffective.


1. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Guideline for the management of knee and hip osteoarthritis. 2nd edn. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2018.
2. Messier SP, Gutekunst DJ, Davis C, DeVita P. Weight loss reduces knee-joint loads in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Jul;52(7):2026-32. doi: 10.1002/art.21139. PMID: 15986358.


This information is intended for residents of Australia only.

The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before you make decisions about your health.

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