I have some very bothersome arthritis in one knee. I'm not really ready for a joint replacement. Antiinflammatories don't seem to help. Are there any other options for people like me?

Study after study show that exercise is beneficial for osteoarthritis (OA). It seems to keep the joint lubricated and the symptoms at a tolerable level. Sometimes finding the right medication, dosage, or combination of drugs is helpful. You may want to work with your doctor to get the best results from this conservative treatment.

If you're looking for an operative solution, arthroscopic debridement may be a good option. In this procedure, the surgeon inserts a thin needle (arthroscope) into the joint. A tiny TV camera on the end of the scope projects a picture from inside the joint onto a monitor. The surgeon can see how the cartilage looks, remove any loose pieces, and smooth down the edges.

Arthroscopic debridement works well for patients with mild cartilage damage. Results are best for those patients who have good knee alignment. The outcome is not as predictable for patients with moderate OA. Anyone with severe cartilage lesions is best advised to have a total knee replacement.