Knee arthritis is one of the most common causes of knee pain. Different types of arthritis can affect the knee joint, and treatment varies depending on the specific condition causing the symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of knee arthritis. It is characterized by progressive wear of the cartilaginous tissue of the joint. As the protective cartilage wears away, the bone is exposed, the knee swells, and the activity becomes more painful.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a disease of the immune system in which the body attacks the joints and other tissues and can affect the knees.
Knee arthritis symptoms
Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms tend to progress progressively as your condition worsens, but can suddenly worsen with minor injury or overuse.
The most common symptoms of knee arthritis include :
Knee arthritis pain tends to get worse after physical activity, especially with overexertion. Stiffness is common after long periods of sitting.
As knee arthritis worsens, the pain becomes more frequent or may become constant with or without physical activity.
Knee arthritis causes the loss of cartilage, the smooth tissue that acts as a pillow, in the knee joint. There are many risk factors and causes of knee arthritis, including:
- Being under 40 years of age or older – Joints wear out over time.
- Osteoarthritis is more common in women.
- Being overweight puts more pressure on your joints and can make joint damage worse.
- Having parents or siblings with osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis.
- Having a previous knee injury, such as a torn meniscus, a broken bone around the joints, or a torn ligament.
- Previous knee surgery when damaged cartilage was removed
- Work that requires physical effort and / or that involves repetitive strain on the knees.
- Having another joint disorder that has caused damage to the joint, such as RA.
- Problems with the subchondral bone, the layer of bone under the knee cartilage.
No test can definitively diagnose knee arthritis, so your healthcare provider will use imaging studies, a complete medical history, a physical exam, and laboratory tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
Many people over the age of 50 will show signs of joint wear and tear, which can be seen on X-rays . If there are doubts about a serious cause, your doctor may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan , which can provide detailed information. images of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Laboratory work can help diagnose or rule out certain causes of knee pain, such as inflammatory arthritis . Laboratory tests may include blood tests and knee aspiration, which draws fluid from the knee joint and examines it for abnormalities and infections.
Depending on the type of arthritis, the goals of treatment are to relieve pain, improve joint mobility and strength, minimize symptoms, and prevent further joint damage.
Treatments for knee arthritis include lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.
There are a number of lifestyle changes and techniques that can help you manage knee osteoarthritis.
- Lose weight (if you are overweight) : Losing weight reduces pain associated with knee arthritis. Reducing pressure on the joint can also prevent your condition from getting worse.
- Protect your joints : Change your activities to avoid straining your joints, but also make sure you move around and don't sit for long periods of time. Use mobility aids if necessary. Wear comfortable shoes, eat foods that strengthen your bones, and wear a knee brace for support.
- Exercise : Regular physical activity can help you manage knee arthritis. Exercise can improve the strength of your leg muscles so they better support your knees. Walking is great exercise, but if it's too painful, try pool water exercises.
- Physiotherapy : Strengthening the muscles of the knee joint can help reduce stress on the knee. Preventing muscle wasting is an important part of maintaining functional use of the knee.
- Hot and cold therapy : Alternating heating pads and cold compresses can help relieve pain and inflammation in affected knees.
Medications for knee arthritis may include pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.
For knee arthritis due to RA, corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be prescribed to control inflammation:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs : Some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are available over the counter (OTC), such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve ( naproxen ). If your healthcare provider thinks you need stronger NSAIDs, they may prescribe a selective COX-2 inhibitor such as celebrex (celecoxib).
- Other pain relievers : Another over-the-counter medicine, Tylenol (acetaminophen), can be used to relieve pain, but it does not relieve inflammation.
- Knee injections: Corticosteroid injections can quickly reduce inflammation and pain. Other injections include viscous additives . These injections contain gelatinous substances that can help lubricate and soften, as can synovial fluid, in healthy joints.
- DMARDs: DMARDs help maintain joint health by blocking inflammation that leads to tissue destruction.
Surgery is often the last resort for knee arthritis. There are different types of procedures. Some repair and preserve bone, while others completely replace the knee joints. Types of knee surgery include:
Knee arthroscopy is minimally invasive and involves surgical treatment with an arthroscope (an optical device with a tiny camera) that is inserted into the joint through a small incision. Additional incisions are made if necessary.
The procedure begins by diagnosing a problem, such as a displaced kneecap or torn meniscus. After the surgeon makes a diagnosis, he will repair the structures with small instruments designed to grasp, shave, cut, repair, and anchor.
Knee osteotomy involves cutting a wedge out of the lower leg or femur to align the knee and relieve stress on the damaged part of the joint. Health professionals recommend this procedure to correct a sprained knee.
Knee replacement surgery
Knee replacement surgery is one of the most commonly performed orthopedic surgical procedures.
In a total knee replacement, the damaged cartilage is removed from the entire knee joint and a metal or plastic implant is inserted in its place. In this way, the bones of the knee joint become smooth, so they can flex and bend freely without pain.
Partial knee replacement involves replacing only part of the knee.
Get the word of drug information
There is no cure for knee arthritis, but it can be controlled with treatments that slow joint damage and reduce the chance of disability. If you suspect you have knee arthritis, do not delay treatment. Work with your doctor and create a treatment plan. Managing this disease is essential to stay active and have a good quality of life.