Non-Arthroplasty Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Patient Guideline Summary

Publication Date: September 1, 2021
Last Updated: March 3, 2023



This patient summary means to discuss key recommendations from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) for Management of Osteoarthritis of the Knee (Non-Arthroplasty). It is limited to adults 18 years of age and older and should not be used as a reference for children.



  • Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive, degenerative condition leading to pain and loss of joint function.
  • There are no known causes for OA beyond wear and tear from ageing.
  • Symptoms include pain and limitation of motion.
  • This patient summary focuses on non-surgical management of osteoarthritis as it affects the knee joint.



Recommended treatments include:
  • Topical NSAIDs
  • Oral NSAIDs
  • Supervised exercise, unsupervised exercise, and/or aquatic exercise
  • Self-management
  • Patient education
  • Sustained weight loss

Allowed treatments include:
  • Canes
  • Braces
  • Supplements:
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger extract
    • Glucosamine
    • Chondroitin
    • Vitamin D
  • Neuromuscular training (i.e. balance, agility, coordination programs)
  • Manual therapy (as performed by osteopaths and physical therapists)
  • Massage
  • FDA-approved laser treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation [TENS] (pain)
  • Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy

Treatments not recommended:
  • Lateral wedge insoles


  • AAOS: American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons
  • OA: Osteoarthritis
  • TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Source Citation

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Management of Osteoarthritis of the Knee (Non- Arthroplasty) Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline. Published 08/31/2021


The information in this patient summary should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.