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knee injections; knee osteoarthritis, physical therapy, surgical treatment, weight loss.







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Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is extremely prevalent in society. It affects more than 25% of Americans above the age of 18 years. According to July 2020 publication by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), osteoarthritis affects approximately 325 million Americans. One of the organs that is most affected by osteoarthritis is the knee. Over the years, we have developed non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy (PT) and injections, and surgical treatments, such as total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and arthroscopic lavage, for knee osteoarthritis (KOA). If a patient fails with non-surgical options, which are tried first to avoid the risks of surgery, the patient may be considered for knee surgery. This article will investigate the different non-surgical options and TKA as treatment options for KOA based on current literature. The goal of this paper is to be a comprehensive resource for physicians and patients with KOA to make an informed decision. A systematic literature search was conducted using PubMed. The search terms were based on the type of treatments for KOA. To find articles that compared TKA to non-surgical treatments, the terms included "osteoarthritis", "total knee", and "non-surgical treatments," in combination. For other non-surgical treatments such as PT, weight reduction, and injections, a combination of the treatment, "osteoarthritis", and "knee" were included in the search. For the tier 1 process, any randomized controlled trials were included. Any case reports, observational studies, and cross-sectional studies were eliminated from the search. For the tier 2 review process, any articles that did not have relevance to the topic were eliminated after reading the abstracts of the articles. After review of the literature, the data seem to suggest that TKA with 12 weeks of non-surgical treatment improved pain and functionality of the knee more than just 12 weeks of non-surgical treatment when followed up at 12 and 24 months. However, non-surgical treatment before TKA delays the need for surgery. Supervised PT, either in a group or individual format, has been shown to delay TKA in 95% patients in the group that received PT at the end of one year. In addition, weight reduction has been shown as an effective strategy to improve pain and functionality in KOA patients, which decreases the urgency for surgery. Furthermore, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections have been shown to have long-term symptomatic relief for KOA compared to hyaluronic acid (HA) and corticosteroid injections. However, HA and corticosteroid injections are beneficial in treating KOA more than receiving no treatment. Physicians often have difficulty deciding whether to pursue conservative or surgical treatment for patients with KOA. The non-surgical treatments explored in this review - PT, injections, and weight reduction - can provide symptomatic relief and, in some cases, delay the need for surgical intervention. However, based on some randomized clinical trials mentioned in the article, patients receiving TKA have more relief, better quality of life, and improved functionality compared to non-surgical therapy. However, a critical review of this important field of debate shows that there are limited randomized controlled studies comparing the effectiveness of TKA and non-surgical treatments for KOA. We believe that this controversial topic needs further clinical investigation.


Copyright © 2023, Surakanti et al.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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