Knee arthritis can transform simple, everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs into challenging – or impossible – tasks. Arthritis is especially prevalent in the knee; common types of knee arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What causes it?
Osteoarthritis is the “wear and tear” type, as cartilage breaks down and wears away, and the protective area between bones is reduced. This can lead to bone on bone friction and bone spurs. Osteoarthritis develops slowly, with increasing pain over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It often affects the same joint on both sides of the body. The synovial membrane that covers the knee joint begins to swell, generating knee pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease: the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and damages the cartilage and ligaments.
How do you know you have it?
Symptoms of knee arthritis are:
- A painful knee that is inflamed
- Stiffness in the joint making it difficult to bend and straighten the knee
- Locking or sticking during movement
- Grinding or clicking noise
- Weakness or buckling in the knee
How we fix it
Your OSI knee specialist is here to listen, discuss your concerns, and examine you for signs and symptoms knee arthritis. Under our care, the use of the following will determine the best course of treatment:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will ask for a complete medical history and have you describe symptoms; a complete physical will focus on joint swelling, tenderness, range of motion, instability and pain.
- X-rays: X-rays can reveal a narrowing of the joint space or the formation of bone spurs.
Nonsurgical treatments look to manage pain, as there is no cure for arthritis. Initial treatments generally include:
- Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications and other drugs are helpful in treating knee pain.
- Activity modification: Activities that result in symptoms may necessitate changes to your daily routine.
- Physical therapy: Specific exercises can help increase range of motion as well as help strengthen and improve the flexibility of the affected muscles.
- Steroid injections: Injections provide temporary relief, generally limited to three or four a year.
- Assistive devices: Use of a cane, sleeve or brace helps with stability.
A surgical approach may be necessary if your arthritis pain doesn’t respond to nonsurgical strategies. The following techniques are options:
- Removal of the joint lining (synvectomy)
- Reshaping of shin or thigh bone (osteotomy)
- Total or partial knee replacement (arthroplasty)