Knee pain can be due to many reasons. The most common cause in elderly patient is arthritis (specifically osteoarthritis). It is very disabling and can be cause of severe agony and misery in elderly population. Patient will have difficulty in getting up from bed or chair, difficulty in sitting and squatting and climbing stairs . Few patients may hear crackling sound on bending the knees. Treatment depends upon the stage of the disease. Stage is decided by the x-rays predominantly and clinical examination.

Various treatment methods are:

EXERCISES:   Exercises help strengthen your muscles and improve/maintain the range of motion of the joint. It is very effective in the early stage of arthritis. There are specific exercises for muscle groups around the knees. These exercises decrease pain also. This can delay/prevent the need of surgery and also reduces the quantity of pain killers required. Proper exercises reduces the risk of injury. In case surgery is required, exercises before and after surgery helps in early recovery.

MEDICINES: There are various medicines available for treatment of knee pain. These are important part of treatment of knee pain. NSAID's are commonly used in acute conditions . But these should be avoided for long term use as they have side effects also. There are few analgesics which are relatively safe and can be taken for longer period under the guidance of doctor. Treatment specific medicines are available for Gout , Rheumatoid arthritis. Steroids also sometimes used to decrease acute pain.

OTHER MEDICINES: Glucosamine and chondroitin have shown to be effective in moderate to severe arthritis. But study results are mixed for these supplements. Newer products like rosehip extracts with collagen are also showing good results.

KNEE INJECTIONS:  When oral medicines are not giving relief than knee injections can be taken before going for surgery. There are three types which can be injected into joint.

  1. HYALURONIC ACID: A thick fluid, similar to the fluid that naturally lubricates joints, hyaluronic acid can be injected into your knee to improve mobility and ease pain. Although study results have been mixed about the effectiveness of this treatment, relief from one or a series of shots may last as long as six months. These are given weekly for period of 3-5 weeks depending upon the product.
  2. CORTICOSTEROIDS:  Injections of a corticosteroid drug into your knee joint may help reduce the symptoms of an arthritis flare and provide pain relief that lasts a few months. While the injections bring targeted relief to the joint and lack many of the side effects of oral corticosteroid medications, they are not without risks.
  3. PLATELET RICH PLASMA (PRP): PRP contains a concentration of many different growth factors that appear to reduce inflammation and promote healing. These types of injections tend to work better in younger people and in people with mild arthritis.

SURGERY: Surgery is the last option when all other treatments have failed and knee pain is very terrible and affecting the patient in activities of daily living.

  1. TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT:The most common knee surgery is total knee replacement, a procedure in which the damaged knee joint is removed and replaced with prosthesis of metal, high grade polymers and plastics. Healthy patients are made to walk the next day after surgery. Few patients take slightly longer time. 
  2. ARTHROSCOPY: Depending on your injury, your doctor may be able to examine and repair your joint damage using a fiber-optic camera and long, narrow tools inserted through just a few small incisions around your knee. Arthroscopy may be used to remove loose bodies from your knee joint, remove or repair damaged cartilage (especially if it is causing your knee to lock), and reconstruct torn ligaments.
  3. OSTEOTOMY: If the damage to your knee is mostly limited to one section, your doctor may recommend a surgery called osteotomy. In an osteotomy, the surgeon reshapes the bones and repositions them to take the weight off of the damaged part of the knee. In doing so it can help relieve pain and improve function, particularly for someone who is not ready to have a total knee replacement.

NOTE: This article for information purpose. Kindly consult your doctor for appropriate treatment.