Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee (gonarthrosis): a review of effective methods

Osteoarthritis is a disease of the musculoskeletal system, in which degenerative changes occur in the articular surfaces of cartilage, gradually the cartilage thins and breaks down. The main symptoms of the disease are pain and restricted movement. And due to the pathological proliferation of cartilage and bone tissue, there is a gradual deformation of the joint, which worsens the functional limitations.

The knee joint is one of the most common sites of osteoarthritis (osteoarthritis of the knee is also called gonarthrosis). Its symptoms manifest to varying degrees in almost 30% of the adult population. Due to the fact that in this disease the discomfort during walking develops quite quickly, patients usually consult a doctor in the early stages of the pathology. This fact facilitates the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint and makes it more effective. For therapy, the doctor uses medical and surgical methods of exposure. It is also important to follow your diet, massage and exercise.

Let's talk about treatment methods in more detail.

knee pain with osteoarthritis

Drug therapy

Drug therapy for gonarthrosis has the following goals:

  • reduction of pain sensations;
  • improving the nutrition of articular cartilage;
  • normalization of the processes of microcirculation of the blood and lymph;
  • return to the previous range of motion.

The drugs can be used at any stage of the disease, but they are effective enough only in mild knee lesions.


Chondroprotective drugs are the only group of drugs that act directly on the cause of the disease. The most effective products are those containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

If you start treating osteoarthritis of the knee with chondroprotectors in the early stages, then there is a possibility of significant results in therapy: it is possible not only to slow down the destruction of cartilage tissue, but also to partially recover. It is important to note that drugs from this group should be taken in courses for a long time (at least one year). If taken only occasionally, treatment will be useless.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a symptomatic effect on osteoarthritis of the knee: they reduce the severity of inflammation and pain. Thanks to this effect, it becomes possible to use active methods of therapy, including physiotherapy exercises and massage - this is important in severe knee injuries. As these drugs can damage the walls of the stomach, their regular long-term use is not recommended.

To reduce side effects, you can use other dosage forms: suppositories or injections. In this case, it is possible to avoid direct contact of the drug with the gastric mucosa and the effectiveness of the agent remains high.

Gels or creams containing NSAIDs are relatively ineffective. It has been found that only 3% of the active substances penetrate the superficial tissues and reach the intra-articular structures.

Corticosteroid hormones

The use of corticosteroid hormones is recommended in cases where it is necessary to temporarily reduce the symptoms of the disease as soon as possible. Injectable forms of the drug are usually used for intra-articular administration.

Other groups of drugs

An important group of drugs used in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee (locally) are vasodilators, which improve microcirculation in the affected area and facilitate lymphatic drainage.

Most often, compresses are used for these purposes, the effectiveness of which is slightly higher than that of ointments. Remarkable:

  • Dimexidum has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, improves the properties of blood flow and tissue nutrition. Unlike many similar drugs, it penetrates deep into the tissues.
  • Medicinal bile has a warming and resorbing effect, it is most effective in concomitant inflammatory changes in the joint membranes.
  • Bischofite is a natural mineral that warms and improves microcirculation in the affected area.

Also, for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in the initial stages, intra-articular application of hyaluronic acid has begun to be used relatively recently. It is the main component of synovial fluid, therefore, thanks to its use, the wear of the articular surfaces of cartilage is significantly reduced. In the treatment of gonarthrosis, it is very important to ensure that this substance does not enter the bloodstream. In this case, the risk of developing embolic complications increases when the drug enters the arteries of the internal organs and leads to impaired blood flow. The cost of the procedures is quite high.

bischofite for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint


In osteoarthritis, the size of the intra-articular gap gradually decreases, which increases the friction of the joint surfaces against each other. As a result, pain sensations increase and there is a significant restriction of mobility. To increase the distance between the cartilages in some cases, the use of hardware traction (traction) is shown. Thanks to such procedures, the load on the joint and the severity of the symptoms of the disease are reduced. Usually this method is used in courses of 5-7 procedures.

Manual therapy and massage

For the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint can be used manual therapy and special massage. Their effects are: pain relief, relief of muscle spasm, restoration of range of motion. However, these methods of treatment are effective only in the early stages of the pathology, because with pronounced deformation of the bone and cartilage tissue it becomes difficult to perform manipulations.


The use of medical leeches can be useful in the treatment of gonarthrosis: thanks to such procedures, the properties of the blood, local blood flow and tissue nutrition are improved. It is also possible to activate the regenerative processes in the cartilage tissue and increase the amount of intra-articular fluid.


Physiotherapy procedures are usually used as an additional method of treatment. Electrophoresis is most often used: with its help external drugs penetrate much deeper than when applied conventionally on the surface of the skin.

You can also use ultrasound, magnetic devices, laser radiation. Thanks to their effect, the microcirculation and nutrition of the tissues are improved, the processes of destruction and deformation are slowed down.

Surgical intervention

Surgical intervention in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee is performed in case of ineffectiveness of conservative methods. Usually in this case the patient has a pronounced deformity of the knee joint and its almost complete immobility. During the operation, it is possible to remove excess tissue that restricts mobility.

In advanced cases, complete or partial endoprosthesis with titanium structures is performed. The operation is very traumatic and the duration of the rehabilitation period after it can reach several months. However, a well-done prosthesis will help restore joint function even in seemingly hopeless cases.

replacement of the knee joint for osteoarthritis

Home treatment

You can treat osteoarthritis of the knee at home, but you must first coordinate all your actions with your doctor so as not to injure yourself.


Adherence to the diet plays an important role in the treatment of gonarthrosis, because it is through food that the substances necessary for the renewal of cartilage and bone cells are delivered.

In the presence of overweight, a properly selected diet will reduce it and thus reduce the load on the musculoskeletal system.


Gymnastics and physiotherapy are an integral part of the treatment of gonarthrosis. Thanks to the exercises, the muscles of the thigh and lower leg are strengthened, the mobility of the limb is increased, and the condition of the ligaments is improved. By improving the blood supply to the affected area, the supply of nutrients and oxygen increases. It is very important to regularly perform an individual set of exercises. It is advisable to work with an instructor from time to time - this way you can control the correctness of the exercises and, if necessary, change them.


Physiotherapy can also be used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee at home. Portable UHF devices, small magnets, paraffin compresses are used for this. During the procedures it is necessary to achieve maximum muscle relaxation, and during physiotherapy it is desirable to reduce the load on the affected limb. To do this, you can use a walking cane: leaning on it, a person reduces the load on the knee by 40%. For the cane to be effective, it is important to choose the right size for it.

Folk ways

There are many popular recipes that can bring tangible benefits in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Here are some of them:

  • chopped warmed horseradish root should be tied to the knee at night;
  • in case of pain you can drink a glass of onion broth (liter of boiling water for two onions) three times a day;
  • baths with a decoction of malt and herbs hay is recommended to do several times a week;
  • in case of severe inflammation you can wipe the knee joint with a slice of lemon or tie a compress of oatmeal.


There is no definite answer to the question of how to cure osteoarthritis of the knee joint. Most experts believe that the disease is incurable and with the help of modern methods it is possible only to slow down (stop) the process of destruction of the joints and only partially restore the lost functions. That is why it is important to pay special attention to prevention and to carry it out from an early age.