In its early stages, arthritis of the knee is treated with nonsurgical methods. Some of the more common options include changes in activity level, pain relievers such as ibuprofen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), along with physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections.
Another treatment option is a procedure called viscosupplementation. In this procedure, a thick fluid called hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in the synovial (joint) fluid. It acts as a lubricant to enable bones to move smoothly over each other and as a shock absorber for joint loads.
People with osteoarthritis ("wear-and-tear" arthritis) have a lower-than-normal concentration of hyaluronic acid in their joints. Viscosupplementation may be a therapeutic option for individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee.