Articles On Knee Osteoarthritis
While age is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knee, young people can get it, too. For some individuals, it may be hereditary. For others, osteoarthritis of the knee can result from injury or infection or even from being overweight. Here are answers to your questions about knee osteoarthritis, including how it’s treated and what you can do at home to ease the pain.
When Should I See My Doctor
Check with your doctor or health professional if you feel pain in your joints or experience other symptoms of osteoarthritis. If you have any concerns about osteoarthritis, or other health issues, they can suggest ways to manage your arthritis and refer you to a specialist if needed.
Impaired Quality Of Life
People with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis may have problems performing their daily activities. This is often a direct consequence of intense knee pain and limited range of motion.
The daily life of a knee OA patient can get extremely difficult, sometimes to the point where no treatments can relieve pain.
This can trigger or exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression in patients with this chronic disease, making their daily lives even more difficult.
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Prepare You For Flare
One of the most frustrating things about this degenerative joint disease is that it will flare up at some point. More so for patients with bilateral knee osteoarthritis.
Dont worry your therapist will work with you to design a plan for when that happens. Youll know exactly what to do and how to manage it. This will help you overcome it faster.
He/she will also be there for you during the flare-up. The sessions may not be as exercise-focused as others, though. They will likely focus on passive treatments to ease your symptoms naturally.
This may help: 7 tips to live better with knee OA.
Are There Any Complications
Osteoarthritis can develop over just a year or two, but more often its a slow process over many years that only causes fairly small changes in just part of the knee.
But in some cases, the cartilage can become so thin that it no longer covers the ends of the bones. This causes them to rub against each other and eventually wear away.
The loss of cartilage, the wearing of the bones, and the bony spurs can change the shape of the joint. This forces the bones out of their normal positions, making your knee feel unstable and painful.
Some people with osteoarthritis find a lump appears at the back of their knee. This is called a Bakers cyst or popliteal cyst.
A Bakers cyst is fluid-filled swelling at the back of the knee that happens when part of the joint lining bulges through a small tear in the joint capsule. This can then cause joint fluid to be trapped in the bulge.
It can happen on its own, but is more likely in a knee thats already affected by arthritis. A Bakers cyst doesnt always cause pain, but sometimes they can burst so the fluid leaks down into your calf, causing sharp pain, swelling and redness in the calf.
Osteoarthritis in the knee might change the way you walk or carry your weight, and this could cause you to develop the condition in other joints, such as your hips.
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Physical Therapy Guide To Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee is the inflammation and wearing away of the cartilage on the bones that form the knee joint . The diagnosis of knee OA is based on 2 primary findings: radiographic evidence of changes in bone health , and an individual’s symptoms . Approximately 14 million people in the United States have symptomatic knee OA. Although more common in older adults, 2 million of the 14 million people with symptomatic knee OA were younger than 45 when diagnosed, and more than half were younger than 65. Physical therapists treat knee OA to reduce pain and improve range of motion.
Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
Complementary Medicines Or Alternative Therapies
Complementary and alternative treatments are widely used by people with musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoarthritis of the knee.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation A TENS machine is a small battery powered device with leads that connect to sticky pads on your body. It delivers very small electrical currents to your skin that stimulate nerves to relieve pain. Some people find it helpful in relieving pain while others do not. The quality of evidence showing it helps with knee OA is very low. If youre thinking of using a TENs machine speak with your doctor to see if its a suitable option for you. You can often hire one from your physiotherapist, local pharmacy or local hospital.
ElectrotherapyElectrotherapy treatments are thought to minimise inflammation, promote cell growth and modify pain. While some trials have shown short-term benefits with electrotherapy, the evidence for its use in knee OA is low to very low. For this reason its not generally recommended.
AcupunctureThe use of traditional , laser and/or electro acupuncture for knee OA is not supported by current clinical evidence. While some improvements in knee pain and function have been identified in low-quality studies, the benefits are considered so small that theyre not clinically relevant. Also to see any benefits from treatment, its likely that you will need multiple sessions of acupuncture which could become quite costly.
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What Causes Arthritis Of The Knee
Experts have identified some genes that might cause arthritis, including arthritis of the knee. They predict that there are more genes not yet discovered. You could have a gene linked to arthritis without knowing it and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis of the knee.
Though the cause is unknown, some risk factors increase the possibility of arthritis of the knee. Risk factors of osteoarthritis, specifically, include:
- Age. Osteoarthritis happens to older adults more often than younger adults and children.
- Bone anomalies. Youre at a higher risk for osteoarthritis if your bones or joints are naturally crooked.
- Gout. Gout, also a type of inflammatory arthritis, might lead to osteoarthritis.
- Injuries. Knee injuries can cause arthritis of the knee.
- Stress. A lot of stress on your knees from jogging, playing sports or working an active job can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Weight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees.
Who Gets Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. While it can occur even in young people, the chance of developing osteoarthritis rises after age 45. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected areas. Women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men.
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How Is Oa Treated
There is no cure for OA, so doctors usually treat OA symptoms with a combination of therapies, which may include the following:
- Increasing physical activity
- Medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription drugs
- Supportive devices such as crutches or canes
In addition to these treatments, people can gain confidence in managing their OA with self-management strategies. These strategies help reduce pain and disability so people with osteoarthritis can pursue the activities that are important to them. These five simple and effective arthritis management strategies can help.
Physical Activity for Arthritis
Some people are concerned that physical activity will make their arthritis worse, but joint-friendly physical activity can actually improve arthritis pain, function, and quality of life.
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Osteoarthritis Of The Knee: Pain Management And Treatment
The knee, the largest joint in the body, bears most of our weight. Due to the natural wear-and-tear that comes with constant lifting and moving, the knee is frequently affected by arthritis. Among the many forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis most commonly impacts the knee.
OA is a degenerative condition that involves the loss of the smooth cartilage surfaces on the end of bones. This can lead to bone-on-bone rubbing in the knee, which causes pain.
OA usually occurs with aging. For many years, knee replacement candidates were typically in their sixties or seventies, but increased sports participation at a younger age has contributed to rising numbers of knee problems earlier in life. As materials used in knee implants improve, knee replacement surgery is being used to treat OA in younger patients.
What Is Osteoarthritis Of Knee
Knee osteoarthritis is a progressive disease caused by inflammation and degeneration of the knee joint that worsens over time. It affects the entire joint, including bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. Its progression is influenced by age, body mass index , bone structure, genetics, muscular strength, and activity level. Knee OA also may develop as a secondary condition following a traumatic knee injury. Depending on the stage of the disease and whether there are associated injuries or conditions, knee OA can be managed with physical therapy. More severe or advanced cases may require surgery.
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What Is The Knee Joint
Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include the:
A smooth substance called cartilage covers the ends of each bone. Its a cushion between the bones that keeps them from rubbing together. The synovial membrane, a type of tissue that surrounds the joint, lubricates the cartilage.
Arthritis of the knee causes pain and swelling in the joint
Symptoms Of Knee Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis in the knee often introduces itself to you in four basic ways, says Dr. Orlandi. Those symptoms are:
- Pain, which can vary in intensity from dull to sharp. Itll often spike with more rigorous activity and ease with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications.
- Stiffness in the joint, particularly after youve been sitting or lying down for longer periods.
- Loss of flexibility and range of motion.
- Swelling and a warm, burning sensation usually a sign of more advanced arthritis.
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Locking Or Buckling Of The Knee
This symptom usually means theres a meniscus tear. The locking happens when a piece of the torn cartilage gets stuck in the joint, thus limiting its movement.
If your knee gets locked frequently, your doctor might suggest doing arthroscopic surgery. This would remove the piece that keeps getting stuck, so your joint can move freely.
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Once You Decide On Surgery Preparation Is Important
If you have tried all the conservative treatment options and the pain is affecting your ability to function, its worth considering surgery. Because the surgery is elective, doctors and patients have time to work on minimizing risk and maximizing positive outcomes by addressing health habits and other conditions beforehand.
An optimal surgical candidate:
- Has a BMI < 40 .
- Does not currently smoke.
- Has not had a cortisone injection within the prior three months.
- If diabetic, has hemoglobin A1C levels under 7 percent.
In addition, research shows that pre-surgical strengthening may contribute to better post-operative outcomes. Quadriceps strengthening is especially effective, so we focus on that, says Dr. Chen.
One gauge of quadriceps strength is through a single-leg stance: being able to stand on one leg for at least 10 seconds is ideal. Try it the longer, the better!
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What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee happens when the cartilage in your knee joint breaks down, enabling the bones to rub together. The friction makes your knees hurt, become stiff and sometimes swell. While osteoarthritis in the knee cant be cured, there are many treatments to slow its progress and ease your symptoms. Surgery is an option for more severe forms of osteoarthritis.
Meniscus Tears Of The Knee
The meniscus can be torn with the shearing forces of rotation that are applied to the knee during sharp, rapid motions. This is especially common in sports requiring reaction body movements. There is a higher incidence with aging and degeneration of the underlying cartilage. More than one tear can be present in an individual meniscus. The patient with a meniscal tear may have a rapid onset of a popping sensation with a certain activity or movement of the knee. Occasionally, it is associated with swelling and warmth in the knee. It is often associated with locking or and unstable sensation in the knee joint. The doctor can perform certain maneuvers while examining the knee which might provide further clues to the presence of a meniscal tear.
Routine X-rays, while they do not reveal a meniscal tear, can be used to exclude other problems of the knee joint. The meniscal tear can be diagnosed in one of three ways: arthroscopy , arthrography, or an MRI. Arthroscopy is a surgical technique by which a small diameter video camera is inserted through tiny incisions on the sides of the knee for the purposes of examining and repairing internal knee joint problems. Tiny instruments can be used during arthroscopy to repair the torn meniscus.
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Special Devices And Footwear
Walking sticks can help to reduce the load on your knees and reduce pain when moving about. Other ways to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis include taping the joint, wearing braces, or using shoe insoles that improve your body alignment when standing and walking. Check with your physiotherapist for advice about using aids or supports.
Strategies Physios Use To Manage Knee Oa
Once the knee osteoarthritis diagnosis is made, your doctor will recommend starting physical therapy as soon as possible.
See, this is a huge part of the conservative management of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis because it :
- Reduces pain, stiffness, and swelling.
- Keeps your legs strong, so you can do your daily activities easier.
- Helps you slow down the progression of the disease.
- Teaches you how to live with the condition.
- Can delay and even avoid your need for surgery.
Well work with you to achieve these goals through several methods. These depend on each physical therapist, though, as we all have different areas of expertise. You may want to find a professional specializing in orthopedics.
With that said, most of us use the following strategies to treat knee arthritis:
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Knee Osteoarthritis High Risk Groups
Generally, patients with knee osteoarthritis tend to be aged 50 and above, with females more prone to the condition than males due to hormonal as well as musculoskeletal factors. Additionally, there is currently an emerging trend of patients experiencing knee osteoarthritis at younger ages than ever, which places them at risk of developing early onset osteoarthritis. The following groups fall into this category: patients who have previously suffered a knee injury patients who have an unhealthy diet that has resulted in them becoming overweight or obese, thus placing greater strain on the knee joint or patients with underlying conditions that cause arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, as these disorders gradually wear away at the joint surface until the knee becomes severely swollen and eventually seizes up altogether.
What Questions Might A Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Arthritis Of The Knee
Your healthcare provider will interview you when you report your symptoms. Some questions might include:
- Does anyone in your family have arthritis of the knee?
- Does your knee swell up?
- Is your skin often red?
- Is your skin often warm?
- Do you have symptoms in one knee or both?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- What medications do you take?
- How severe is your pain?
- Do you struggle to walk?
- Do the symptoms interfere with your daily activities?
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How Is It Diagnosed
Knee OA is diagnosed by 2 primary processes. The first is based on your report of your symptoms and a clinical examination. Your physical therapist will ask you questions about your medical history and activity. The therapist will perform a physical exam to measure your knee’s movement , strength, mobility, and flexibility. You might also be asked to perform various movements to see if they increase or decrease the pain you are experiencing.
The second tool used to diagnose knee OA is diagnostic imaging. Your physical therapist may refer you to a physician, who will order X-rays of the knee in a variety of positions to check for damage to the bone and cartilage of your knee joint. If more severe joint damage is suspected, an MRI may be ordered to look more closely at the overall status of the joint and surrounding tissues. Blood tests also may be ordered to help rule out other conditions that can cause symptoms similar to knee OA.