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, and common types include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What causes Knee Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the “wear and tear” type of arthritis where 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 in the knee (or within any joint) develops slowly, with increasing pain over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues and damages cartilage and ligaments. It is a chronic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body and often affects the same joint on both sides of the body, so both knees. The synovial membrane that covers the knee joint begins to swell, generating knee pain and stiffness.
How do you know you have arthritis in your knee?
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 does OSI fix Knee Arthritis?
Your board-certified, highly-trained OSI knee specialist will use one or more of the following to determine if you have knee arthritis, how bad your knee arthritis is, and the best course of action to treat your knee arthritis:
- 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 3 or 4 a year.
- Assistive devices: The 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. Your OSI surgeon may offer one of the following techniques as options depending on the severity of your knee arthritis:
- Removal of the joint lining (synovectomy)
- Reshaping of the shin or thigh bone (osteotomy)
- Total or partial knee replacement (arthroplasty)