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Knee Arthritis 101

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation that comes from “wear and tear” of the cartilage cushion in the joint. Cartilage is similar to treads on a tire, and it can wear down over time leading to a frayed and roughened joint surface. The damaged joint surface leads to pain, swelling and stiffness. Often patients report clicking, popping or grinding sensations. Pain is usually worse with everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, exercise or standing for long periods of time. Pain can also be felt at night.

What is the initial treatment?

Most arthritis is treated non-operatively. The goal is to manage and limit inflammation from developing in the arthritic joint. Surgical procedures are usually reserved only for more severe cases. Key treatments include physical therapy exercises, pain-relieving creams and ointments, joint injections, medications and lifestyle modifications (i.e., weight loss and low-impact activity).  Most patients find a combination of the following treatments helpful:

  • Knee Conditioning Exercises: An exercise program to improve range of motion, strengthen muscles that stabilize the knee and improve flexibility can greatly limit knee arthritis pain.
    • Visit Dr. Boes’s website to access the KNEE ARTHRITIS CONDITIONING PROGRAM for short, video-based knee exercises that can be viewed on your smart phone, tablet or computer. Follow as directed.
  • NSAIDs: Prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may be used:
    • Naproxen – two tablets [440mg] twice daily
    • Ibuprofen – three tablets [600mg] three times daily
    • Prescription NSAIDs – use as directed
  • Cortisone Injections: These work quickly to decrease the pain, swelling and inflammation caused by arthritis. You may have 2-3 cortisone injections per year in the knee.
  • Viscosupplmentation: Injections that add cushion and lubrication to the knee to improve pain and function. Also referred to as the “gel shots,” you can receive these shots up to every 6 months in the knee.

To schedule an appointment for repeat cortisone shots or to order “gel shots” please contact our clinical assistant, Deborah at

919-781-5600, ext 5047,

or via email at debpayne@raleighortho.com

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