On call: Knee pain: Meds, tape, or both?

On call

Knee pain: Meds, tape, or both?

Q. At 76 years old, I'm very proud that I don't take any medicines. But I have arthritis in both knees that is getting pretty painful. I refused painkillers but did go to physical therapy, and the exercises have helped. Now the therapist wants to tape my knee. I'm willing, but only if it will help. What do you suggest?

A. It is terrific that you can have an honest and healthy dialogue with your health care providers. It's your body, and you have a right to decide on your treatment. When it comes to ordinary osteoarthritis of the knee, comfort and mobility are the major goals of treatment, so you can reasonably accept or decline any plan.

Most physicians would agree with the use of acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil and other brands) to ease osteoarthritis pain and keep you on the move. It's your privilege to decline, but you might consider alternative agents like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which appear to reduce pain; glucosamine may even slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

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