What is knee arthritis?
Arthritis is a term that means inflammation of the joints. There are many types of arthritis. Although there are many types of arthritis, most knee pain is caused by just three types: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.
This is an age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. It usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and wears away. The bones then rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness.
This is a disease in which the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and thickened. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of a group of disorders termed “inflammatory arthritis”.
This can follow a serious knee injury. Fractures of the bones surrounding the knee or tears of the knee ligaments may damage the articular cartilage over time, causing knee pain and limiting knee function.
What are the symptoms of knee arthritis?
The symptoms of OA usually begin after the age of 40 and can vary from person to person. The common symptoms are:
This is the main symptom of knee arthritis; it is usually a burning aching pain and can be made worse by activity. In severe cases pain can also happen at rest or at night and it can disturb your sleep.
Morning stiffness is a common symptom. It usually gets better in 30 minutes but can happen through the day after you have been sat for a while e.g. in a car or in the doctors waiting room!
Cracking or grating (crepitus)
Moving your knee joint may cause a cracking noise and a grating feeling called crepitus. This is probably due to roughening of the normally smooth surfaces in your knee joint.
Bony outgrowths (osteophytes)
OA often causes outgrowths of bone or bone spurs. They can often be felt through the skin near the joints and may get bigger with time.
How is knee arthritis diagnosed?
You will not usually need any special tests. Your surgeon or physiotherapist should be able to tell if you have this condition from your symptoms and doing an exam.
An X-ray or MRI scan can help to confirm the diagnosis and also rule out any other causes for your symptoms. These special investigations can also help plan your treatment.
How is knee arthritis treated?
The first part of treatment involves things you can do on your own to reduce your pain. To ease your symptoms, you can:
Rest your knee and avoid activities or movements that make the pain worse.
Put ice on the outside of your knee when it hurts or after activities that cause pain. You can put a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables on the painful area every 1 to 2 hours, for 15 minutes each time. Put a thin towel between the ice (or other cold object) and your skin.
Take a pain-relieving medicine. Over-the-counter medicines include paracetemol or ibuprofen.
Lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms of arthritis in the longer term consider;
Having strong muscles takes a lot of the pressure off your joints, its important to persevere with your exercise as it may be difficult at first but will have benefits in the long run!
This has been shown to help reduce pain and also makes you feel more positive in general.
A physiotherapist can advise you on keeping the joints mobile and loose and making sure the muscles strong.
Losing weight (if you are overweight this puts extra pressure on your knee joint).
Using support insoles, walking sticks, knee braces
These devices can help you keep your knee joint stable and helps keep some of the pressure off your knee.
Learn about your condition
Look at some patient decision aids which are available these can help you make the right decision about how you want to treat your knee arthritis
When these simple measures stop working and you feel that your quality of life is being affected by your knee arthritis then knee replacement surgery can help.
Knee replacement surgery can get rid of your pain and give you back a quality of life for the long-term. Contact My Knee Doc for more information about knee arthritis and treatment.
Can knee arthritis be prevented?
Whilst most cases of arthritis can’t be prevented you can try to reduce the impact of the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. You might need to try different combinations of the above treatments, exercises, and devices to find out what works best for you. Most people are able to get back to doing many of the things they enjoy.
Call 0161 4646399 today to arrange a consultation with Mr Gareth Stables.