There's no shortage of medications that can be used to treat the pain of knee osteoarthritis, so you may feel confused about which treatment option is best for you.
A meta-review of studies may shed some light on which oral or injectable medications are the most effective.
Researchers compared 137 studies that involved more than 33,000 participants. These studies compared 10 common treatments for knee osteoarthritis, including over-the-counter and prescription non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and injectable medications.1
The results revealed the most and least effective treatments:
So what does this mean for you? If you have knee osteoarthritis and have not tried corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections to relieve your pain, you may want to ask your doctor if it’s right for you.
Keep in mind that there are several non-pharmacological treatments that have been shown to help with the pain and mobility difficulties of knee OA, including:
Another point to keep in mind is relieving the pain of a degenerating joint though medication—oral or injectable—does nothing to improve the condition of the joint. In fact, too many cortisone injections can actually harm the joint's soft tissues, which is why your doctor will restrict how often you can receive them.
In order to improve the joint's condition, the best method is to use the window of pain relief provided by medication to get going with a physical therapy or exercise program.
- “Comparative Effectiveness of Pharmacologic Interventions for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis.” Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 6; 162(1):46-54.