Knee Arthritis Basics

Knee arthritis is a common problem faced by many older adults, but it isn’t uncommon among the young. Knee arthritis could be an outcome of circumstances created by oneself like an injury or accident or it could be a genetic trace. Explore the ways to manage and treat it at the right time.

Researchers are of the opinion that knee problems arise on account of two reasons namely, mechanical problems and inflammatory problems. The mechanical problems are a result of injury caused by a straight or unexpected blow to the knee which sprains the knee when stretched beyond its normal range of movement and flexibility. Inflammatory problems on the other hand result from severe arthritis conditions.

Types of knee arthritis:

Studies show that arthritis in the knee is a result of severe conditions suffered at the knee joints. The conditions that define knee arthritis are mentioned below:

  • Osteoarthritis: This condition is marked by the wearing down of the cartilages. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This condition is marked by the complete damage of the knees. The damage is caused by the wearing down of the cartilages at the joints which induces swelling and pain. The feeble cartilages also affect the supporting structures like tendons, ligaments and muscles.
  • Post Traumatic Arthritis: This kind of knee arthritis develops after an injury suffered at the knee. It is not very different from osteoarthritis but occurs years later after a fracture or a ligament tear, etc.

Causes of knee arthritis:

When a young person gets osteoarthritis, it could be an inherited form of the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand, usually affects people at an earlier age than osteoarthritis.

The causes of knee arthritis include the following:

  • Overweight
  • Genetic factors
  • Ligament tear
  • Fractures or injury caused around the joints
  • People suffering from osteoarthritis are usually above 45 or 60 years old. Therefore age can be a factor as well.
  • Over exertion or less use of the knees
  • Abnormal bone structures since childhood

Symptoms of knee arthritis:

The most common symptoms of arthritis in the knee include the following:

  • Movements or activities that can cause pain and discomfort
  • Decreased range of flexibility and motion
  • Swelling
  • Morning stiffness
  • Weakness at the joints
  • Knee deformities like knock knees or bow legs

Diagnosis for knee arthritis:

The location of the knee pain can be a useful piece of information when the diagnosis for knee arthritis is being done. Accordingly, knee pain can be classified into the following:

  • Front: Pain in the front part of the knee is caused by the inflamed fluid filled sacs also called the bursa and also because of the deteriorating conditions of patella cartilage.
  • Sides: Pain on the sides of the knee could have arisen on account of an injury or accident which has led to ligament injuries.
  • Back: Pain at the back of the knee could have resulted from the accumulation of the synovial fluid behind the knee or due to an infection in that area.

Tests or diagnosis to confirm knee arthritis include the following:

  • Blood tests to detect rheumatoid arthritis
  • Analyzing the fluids from the knee joints
  • Arthroscopy which is usually done when a repair procedure is to be performed

Treatment options for knee arthritis:

Various treatment options available for knee arthritis are included below:

  • Moderate forms of exercise that can help reduce your weight
  • Aquatic exercises
  • Walking with crutches
  • Over the counter and prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Joint protection, strain and stress
  • Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation and pain at joints
  • Synvisc surgery
  • Limited intake of glucosamine
  • Arthroscopy
  • Knee osteotomy for young patients with limited arthritis
  • A complete knee replacement surgery
  • A partial knee replacement surgery

When to consult a doctor?

A knee arthritis sufferer should consult a doctor during the initial stages because it becomes very difficult and complicated to treat an old and chronic disease. Equip yourself for a comprehensive medical history and examination when you are consulting a doctor for knee arthritis.

Carry the following information with you when you are about to consult a doctor:

  • Reveal the important details of your medical history
  • If you have already undergone knee x-rays carry the reports to your doctor
  • If you are currently taking medicines then let your doctor know of the dosage, etc
  • If you have undergone any other medical treatment before and how many times

These details are important for the doctor to suggest the suitability, safety and efficacy of the treatment for treating your knee arthritis.

The slightest discomfort or tingling sensations should be conveyed and discussed with an orthopedic surgeon. A doctor can guide you best on the feasibility and effectiveness of the knee arthritis treatment for you.