There are many methods for managing symptoms of knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA). According to a study in Arthritis Care and Research, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, most people with knee and hip OA use oral pain medications to manage their symptoms as opposed to non-drug alternatives.

Of nearly 1,200 participants in the study, 70-82% utilized pain relievers to manage symptoms of OA. Fewer than half had tried physical therapy or other non-drug approaches. Additionally, most of the participants were overweight and none of them got the minimum 150 minutes of physical activity per week as recommended by the CDC.

It may be a common misconception that people with OA shouldn’t exercise. But research has shown that people who are more active have less pain and better function. Of course, someone with knee or hip OA probably shouldn’t do high intensity exercise if their body is not accustomed to it. But low-impact exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, and weight training can be very beneficial to people with OA. In a recent blog, we discussed the best forms of exercise for people with knee OA.

Below are the best methods for managing knee and hip OA according to the American College of Rheumatology.

Non-drug Therapies

  • Exercise
  • Weight loss (for those who are overweight or obese)
  • Self-efficacy and self-management programs
  • Tai Chi
  • Cane Use
  • Bracing (for knee OA)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Acupuncture

Drug Therapies


  • Pain medications
  • Oral or topical NSAIDs
  • Corticosteroid joint injections