Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic inflammatory disease and is characterized as a degenerative process. This study aimed to evaluate and compare the effects of a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), physical activity, and photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) applied alone and/or in combination between them in an experimental model of knee OA. OA was induced by injection of papain in the knees of rats. After 21 days, the animals started to be treated with the above treatment. Histological analysis shows that the experimental model of OA induction causes morphological changes consistent with the disease, and among treatments, the PBMT is the most effective for reducing these changes. Moreover, the results demonstrate that PBMT and NSAID reduce the total number of cells in the inflammatory infiltrate (p<0.05) and PBMT was the most effective for reducing the activity of myeloperoxidase (p<0.05). Finally, we observed that both NSAID and PBMT were effective for reducing the gene expression of MMP-3 (p<0.05), but in relation to the gene expression of MMP-13, PBMT was the most effective treatment (p<0.05). The results of this study indicate that PBMT is the most effective therapy in stopping disease progression, and improving inflammatory conditions observed in OA.