Bone on Bone Knee Pain – What and How to Treat Bone on Bone arthritis

What is Bone on Bone Knee Pain – How to Recognize and Treat the Symptoms 

We often hear people use the term “bone on bone knee pain” to describe osteoarthritis.

This is a common term used to describe a condition where the cartilage at the ends of the bones in a joint has worn away and the two bones now make contact with each other.

Bone on bone can cause pain and stiffness and puts individuals at risk for joint degeneration and disability.

In this in depth article we will explore:

  • what you need to know about bone on bone knee pain,
  • the symptoms, and
  • options on how to treat bone on bone knee pain

We have also included a FAQ section in case you have any other questions  we didn’t cover in this article. 

About Bone on Bone Knee Pain

Knee pain is a common problem that affects many people. In fact, it’s estimated that at any given time, about 19% of the population will have some sort of knee pain.

But there are some types of knee pain that are more serious than others. One of them is called “bone on bone” knee pain, and it’s a serious condition that needs to be addressed.  Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of Bone on Bone Knee Pain. 

bone on bone knee pain

What is Bone on Bone Knee Pain Called

Another name that bone on bone knee pain is osteoarthritis.   It is the pain felt in the knee joint by people who have a distinct lack of cartilage to provide a buffer between the bones. 

Cartilage is natures  way of lubricating and cushioning the joints in the body.  It is a crucial part of the joint that allows it to function without the bones touching and causing friction (or pain). 

Causes for the degradation of cartilage in the human body may be due to the joint sustaining an injury.  Or sometimes it is due to natural ageing process and gradual wear and tear of the joint over the many years it has supported an individual.  

How do I know if my knees are bone on bone?

Now you know the definition, you may be asking yourself “What does bone on bone pain feel like?

Here is a quick reference list of the symptoms of bone on bone pain:

  • you experience pain within the knee joint while you are both moving and stationary (muscle pain is only linked to moving),
  • the pain you experience feels like a grinding or grating sensation
  • your knee joint feels stiff after a rest period (such as sleep or sitting watching television),
  • gradual loss of flexibility in the joint, and 
  • occasional swelling occurs due to the joints inflammation. 

The above is not an exhaustive list of symptoms.  However, these are the more common sensations people experience with bone on bone knee pain. 

Bone on Bone Knee Treatment

Now you know a bit more about the causes and symptoms of bone on bone knee pain, let’s take a look at the popular ways of treating the symptoms.    

Fortunately there are quite a few options for treating bone on bone knee pain.  We always recommend trying the non-invasive options first.  They are generally less stressful on the body and tend to be more budget friendly for those experiencing symptoms.  In the instances where they don’t seem to be effective, you can then consult medical professionals for further options like surgery.  

Knee braces are one of the best forms of treatment for treating bone on bone pain

Bone on Bone Knee Brace

Knee braces are one of the best forms of treatment for treating bone on bone knee pain. 

Now it may sound biased given you know we love our knee braces at, however it is for good reason. 

Knee braces provide immediate support and strength required when the knee has lost the natural protection cartilage provides.  

Knee braces are versatile because they can be worn day and night.  In addition, depending on the model of knee brace you choose it can even be discretely worn under clothing.   

They are also relatively inexpensive when you compare it to other options like surgery. 

However, the primary reason we recommend trying a knee brace as your first option for treatment is the fact that it is non-invasive.  This essentially means you do not have to invade the body with surgical procedures.  All treatment is provided externally, with little stress applied to the body.  For the best knee braces for bone on bone treatment check out our recommendations in our Buyers Guide.

Lifestyle Changes – how to naturally lubricate your joints

Another option to treat bone on bone knee pain effectively is to make lifestyle adjustments.  Here are a few changes to try to reduce the symptoms of bone on bone knee pain

  1. Exercise – maintaining a regular exercise regime helps your body in a multitude of ways.  And relieving knee pain resulting from bone on bone is one of them.   Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight for your body, placing less pressure and strain on your knee joints in your day-to-day activity.  Doing the appropriate exercises will also help to strengthen the muscles around your knee to provide natural support to the joint.   

    We recommend activities like low impact exercise like walking, cycling or swimming.  You can also take some classes in yoga and tai chi that will help stretch the joint and surrounding muscles. 
  2. Diet – eating a balanced diet of foods that are cartilage friendly will also help with the natural lubrication of the knee joint.  Foods like lugumes, brussel sprouts, and fruits high in vitamin C such as oranges and pomegranates are also good for natural lubrications.  Other foods that have been known to help in the regeneration of cartilage are green tea, brown rice and nuts. 
  3. Pain Relief Medication – it may seem obvious, however some people may need reminding that over-the-counter pain medications can help to reduce the pain you experience from the bone on bone condition.   Taking pain relief medication is particularly helpful when you are getting ready for bed, to mask the pain so you can drift off to sleep.  

Bone on Bone Knee Surgery

If none of the above treatment methods seem to work, the next step would be to look at invasive methods of treatment.  If you think this is your best option, you will need to seek the advice of a medical professional to advise you on the next forms of treatment. 

Unfortunately this goes beyond the scope of this article, however some options they may suggest include:

  •  steroids administered via injection – in this case the doctor will inject steroids directly into the knee joint to address any intense pains and inflammation.  You will usually exprience an immediate sense of pain relief from the steroids.  However, this is only a temporary fix and the pain will gradually come back as the steroids deminishes. 
  • knee surgery – is one of the more extreme options and in our mind one of the last resort forms of treatment.  Some surgical options include arthroscopic surgery, osteotomy surgery or even a full knee replacement.  Again, your medical professional is best placed to advise which is the best option for you. 

Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ) for Bone on Bone Knee Pain

Can Bone on Bone Knee Arthritis Be Reversed?

The short answer is NO.  Unfortunately once the cartilage is gone from the knee joint through time and wear and tear, it is very difficult to replace it. 

There are some surgical options for individuals who have injured the cartilage through direct trauma (such as an injury sustained while playing sport).  And it is best to seek advice from a medical professional for your best options. 

This is why it is important to recognize the symptoms early on, so that you can make the lifestyle adjustments, we recommended earlier in the article, sooner rather than later. 

Can you walk with no cartilage in your knee?

You can walk on a knee joint with no cartilage, however you are most likely going to experience some extreme and acute pain. 

We would recommend using some support aids (like a knee brace) if you need to walk around while treating bone on bone knee pain. 

Final Thoughts

Bone on bone knee pain is a very unpleasant condition to live with.  It causes disruption to your day to day activities, as well as discomfort at night while you are trying to sleep. 

The bad news is bone on bone knee pain cannot be cured.  However, fortunately the symptoms can be treated and the pain experienced can be lessened to a very manageable degree.  

We have provided a number of forms of treatment in this article – however if you are after immediate support and relief we recommend seeking out a knee brace specifically designed for treating bone on bone knee pain.