Help your doctor determine the best treatment option for your osteoarthritis (OA) knee pain by preparing in advance for your next appointment. Use the following four steps as a guide to get the most out of your visit:

  1. Be ready to describe your knee pain in detail. When does your pain worsen? Jot down any specific activities that trigger your knee pain.
  2. Describe how your pain is affecting your life. Does knee pain make it more difficult to work, do household chores, or exercise? It's not just physical—if knee pain is affecting your mood, explain that too.
  3. Keep a list of the medications and treatments you've tried. Be ready to describe how well they've worked—or not worked—and their side effects.
  4. Ask about your treatment options. There isn't a cure for OA of the knee, but there are several treatments that can help reduce your pain. Ask your doctor what treatment options are right for you. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:
  • oral medications: Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may help relieve your knee pain. Talk with your doctor about the proper dosage. Some pain relievers can cause stomach or heart problems.
  • viscosupplements: These are injections in the knee that supplement your knee fluid and may relieve pain.
  • steroid injections: These injections are used to temporarily relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • surgery: This option is often considered when knee pain is severe and other treatments have not provided relief.

Your Treatment Plan

Once you've discussed your knee pain in detail, your doctor will offer you a treatment plan. It may include a combination of medications, exercises, and lifestyle changes. Be sure to ask for your plan in writing, and let the doctor know if any part of the plan doesn't seem feasible for you. Asking questions in advance will help ensure that you have a treatment plan that you can follow and will work. Questions you may want to ask your doctor include:

  • How long will I follow this treatment?
  • Will this treatment interact with other medications I'm taking?
  • Are there side effects? If so, how can I manage them?
  • How much pain relief should I expect, and will I be able to get back to doing the things I can't do now?
  • How long will the relief last?
  • Are there other options?