Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There are more than a dozen different drugs in this category, some of which are available without a prescription. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are used to help ease pain and inflammation of arthritis and injuries. They are used for all forms of arthritis.

Read more about NSAIDs.

Medications for Treatment of Knee Pain and Arthritis

Pain relievers, or analgesics, are an important part of treatment for many knee problems. If your knee pain is due to an inflammatory form of arthritis, other medications may be necessary to control the disease in your knee and elsewhere in your body. The medication used will depend largely on the specific condition or form of arthritis you have. The types of medications commonly used in arthritis treatment are:

Analgesics. Analgesics are among the most commonly used drugs for many forms of arthritis. They may also be used to relieve pain from knee injuries and surgery. Unlike nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, which target both pain and inflammation, analgesics are designed purely for pain relief. For that reason, they may be safe for people who are unable to take NSAIDs due to allergies or stomach problems, for example. They’re also an appropriate, and possibly safer, choice for people whose arthritis causes pain but not inflammation.

Read more about analgesics.

Corticosteroids. These quick-acting drugs, similar to the hormone cortisone made by your own body, are used to control inflammation. If knee inflammation is due to a systemic inflammatory form of arthritis, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids.

Read more about corticosteroids.

Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.  Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are drugs that work slowly to modify the course of autoimmune disease. Different DMARDs may be useful for a number of different forms of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.

Read more about DMARDs.

Gout medications. Some medications for gout are designed to reduce levels of uric acid in the blood to prevent future attacks of joint pain and inflammation. Others are designed to relieve the pain and inflammation of an acute attack. Many people with gout take both types of medication.

Read an overview of gout treatment.

Learn about gout drugs, side effects and more.

Biologic response modifiers. The newest category of medications used for rheumatoid arthritis and a few other inflammatory forms of arthritis are the biologic agents. There are currently eight such agents approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Each blocks a step in the inflammation process without suppressing the entire immune system. In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, certain biologic agents may be used in juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.

Read more about biologics.

Learn how biologics may help repair damaged knees.