Some treatment options to help delay knee surgery for osteoarthritis may include exercise, topical medications, and steroid injections, among others.

Treatment for osteoarthritis will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how you respond to other treatments.

If you’re living with severe knee osteoarthritis, a healthcare professional may recommend total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. This could help relieve symptoms, improve function and mobility, and increase your quality of life.

However, TKR may feel like a daunting procedure. You may be worried about the possible complications, recovery time, or costs.

A combination of lifestyle changes and treatments may help you delay surgery for knee osteoarthritis.

Maintaining a healthy-for-you weight is one of the most important aspects of managing osteoarthritis of the knee. Additional weight may put unnecessary strain on the joints in your feet, knees, and hips.

Research suggests that for every pound lost in people with obesity, there’s up to a six-fold reduction in the pressure on the knees.

The American College of Rheumatology and Arthritis Foundation (ACR/AF) suggest losing at least 5% of your body weight if you have obesity to help improve knee function and response to treatment. This may also help slow disease progression, which could allow you to potentially delay TKR surgery.

If you’re unsure where to start, speak with a healthcare professional. They could help establish your target weight goal and develop a weight management plan that works for you.

Eating a well-balanced diet may provide several benefits if you’re trying to delay TKR surgery for osteoarthritis.

For example, a 2023 review found that the Mediterranean diet may help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms, inflammation, and cartilage degeneration.

Similarly, a 2022 review suggests eating high fiber foods with anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects, such as:

Some vitamins and supplements may also form part of your treatment plan because they could help reduce inflammation and improve bone strength. However, the ACR/AF don’t recommend supplementation due to the lack of research and standardization.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, certain ingredients may also increase inflammation and worsen your symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. These may include sugar, saturated fats, and alcohol, among others.

Learn more about the best diets for osteoarthritis.

Staying regularly active may play a key role in delaying TKR and managing osteoarthritis. It could help you:

  • lose weight, if necessary
  • improve joint pain and stiffness
  • reduce stress on the knees
  • strengthen the muscles around the knee
  • improve stamina and stability

It’s important to choose low impact exercises to help delay or prevent joint damage. According to the ACR/AF, these may include:

Speak with a healthcare professional about the best exercise regimen for your condition. They may recommend a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises to help improve shock absorption, balance, and mobility of the knee.

Medications for osteoarthritis may include a combination of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications to help relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Some medications that might provide relief and help delay TKR surgery may include:

It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional about the potential side effects of medications. They could help develop the best medication plan for your knee osteoarthritis.

Learn more about medications for osteoarthritis.

A healthcare professional may recommend injections for knee osteoarthritis to help delay TKR surgery.


The most common type of injection for knee osteoarthritis is corticosteroids. These are injected into the affected knee joint to quickly help reduce inflammation and pain. Their effects may last a few months.

If corticosteroids are effective, you can get an injection into the affected knee joint 2–3 times per year to help manage pain and delay TKR surgery.

That said, corticosteroids are only recommended as a short-term treatment due to their potential side effects. It’s important to discuss these with a healthcare professional before starting treatment.

Hyaluronic acid injections

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a type of viscosupplementation. If other osteoarthritis treatments don’t help relieve symptoms, HA injections may be a final option to try before TKR surgery, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

This injection provides extra lubrication for the knee, resulting in less friction and a greater ability to absorb shock. This may help lower levels of inflammation and pain in the knee.

That said, there’s limited research on the efficacy of HA injections for knee osteoarthritis.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy

PRP therapy for knee osteoarthritis is an experimental treatment that works by injecting platelet-rich blood into your knee.

The AAOS suggests PRP therapy may help improve knee osteoarthritis symptoms, mobility, and function.

However, more research is needed to fully support the effects of PRP injections. PRP is also not usually covered by insurance.

Some natural remedies may be combined with other treatments to help manage osteoarthritis symptoms. These may include:

Learn more about natural remedies for osteoarthritis.

Is there any way to avoid knee replacement surgery?

Some treatment options may help you delay knee replacement surgery. However, if all options fail and you still experience symptoms like severe pain and reduced mobility, surgery may be the only option left.

Why would someone postpone knee surgery?

You may postpone total knee surgery for several reasons, such as learning more about the possible complications, saving money to cover the costs, or trying alternative treatment methods.

Is there any alternative for knee surgery?

Some alternative treatments for knee surgery may include natural remedies, medication injections, PRP therapy, and physical therapy. However, if none of these work, you may require knee surgery to provide the best treatment results.

TKR surgery may be the best option to help treat your symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

However, this may be daunting for many people.

Speak with a healthcare professional about ways to help you delay getting surgery. They could help develop the best treatment plan for you.