What Are The Types Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are around 100 types of arthritis. The most common types that might affect your knees include:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common of the types on this list. Osteoarthritis wears away your cartilage the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis gets worse as time passes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. The cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee . Your bones rub together, and that causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. Your knee arthritis symptoms might not start until years after the trauma.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system causes inflammation when it’s trying to protect you from an infection, injury, toxin or another foreign invader. The inflammatory response is one way your body protects itself. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you have an unhealthy immune system that triggers inflammation in your joints even though theres no foreign invader. The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the synovial membrane, which can also wear away your cartilage.
Dont: Ignore New Or Worsening Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Knee osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, which means that pain is always possible, Pisetsky says. However, if pain grows more severe and occurs at rest instead of after periods of activity, or if it awakens you from sleep, it could mean that your knee osteoarthritis is progressing, he says. Other symptoms such as swelling, a locked knee, or one that just gives way are concerning, too. Let your doctor know about new or worsening symptoms, as an adjustment to your treatment plan may be necessary.
Visit A Physical Therapist
Physical therapists work with your doctor to design specific exercises for knee rehabilitation. Many of these will focus on lengthening and strengthening the supporting muscles of the upper and lower legs, such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
Even one visit to learn the proper form for knee arthritis exercises can help support your recovery.
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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.
Causes Of Knee Arthritis And Pain
The most common cause of pain is knee osteoarthritis. Known as a wear-and-tear disease, osteoarthritis occurs as the knee joint gets used over time. The structures that once supported and eased movement may begin to wear out, causing knee pain with movement.
Other common causes of knee pain include the following:
- Injury: Injury such as torn ligaments and tendons, bone fractures, bursitis, and tendinitis can cause knee pain both at rest and during activity.
- Mechanical problems: Mechanical problems occur when something in the joint fails. This might include dislocated kneecap, iliotibial band syndrome, or a foreign body in the joint .
- Other forms of arthritis: There are over 100 forms of arthritis, many of which can cause knee arthritis pain. In addition to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and septic arthritis can cause knee pain.
Finally, a less common cause of knee pain is patellofemoral pain syndrome. This pain between the patella and the femur is most often seen in young athletes but can develop as a consequence of arthritis in the kneecap.
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How To Practice Walking Or Running Up Stairs
Although walking up and down stairs may hurt, it can be a good strengthening exercise for your leg and hip muscles.
Theres another benefit to exercise, and thats having a protective effect on joint or articular cartilage. This is extremely important for slowing the onset of osteoarthritis.
Think of articular cartilage as a protective covering for your joints.
Articular cartilage functions as a shock absorber and also reduces friction between bones where they meet at joints. As a person ages, this cartilage can wear away, leading to joint pain and swelling, or osteoarthritis.
Research shows that loading of the articular cartilage maintains the health of the cartilage and that avoidance of loading, aka exercise, results in atrophy, or thinning of the articular cartilage.
To safely climb steps:
- Take your time. A slow and steady approach can help you maintain your stability.
- Use the railing for support. If you currently use a cane, talk to your physical therapist about how to best use it while on stairs.
For a low-impact alternative, try using a stair stepper machine. When using a stair stepper, keep the following in mind:
- Start with a shorter workout and increase the duration over time. Doing too much too quickly can be harmful.
- Adjust the height of the rise to suit your needs. Bell advises that you start small and gradually work your way up to a higher step.
- Use the railing for support, as needed. Be careful not to lean on the rails.
Are Certain Exercises Easier On The Knees
Water aerobics are often suggested when recuperating from sore joints.
Although the water can have a soothing, buoyant effect on your knees, Bell says its unlikely to produce enough resistance to strengthen the surrounding muscles.
If you really want to create enough resistance to make a difference, land-based exercises ultimately are what you need, she says.
Some of her favorites include cycling, at moderate or high intensity, and strengthening exercises like Pilates.
You may be able to get more out of a low-impact workout by incorporating weighted elastic bands or free weights into your routine.
You may also find it beneficial to wear a knee brace while exercising.
If you havent already, talk with your doctor about whether this is a good option for you. They can make specific recommendations and advise you on best practices.
Youll likely experience mild soreness when exercising, especially if you havent exercised for a while.
When planning your routine, be sure to keep the level of intensity reasonable.
Your doctor or physical therapist can provide a personalized recommendation suited to your needs.
The dose of exercise should be enough to produce a difference, but not so much that you become injured or discouraged.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising until you can see your doctor:
If the pain persists, resist the temptation to mask it with pain medication, Bell says. You want to find out the underlying cause of the problem and fix it.
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How To Help Arthritis In Knees
If you are experiencing severe knee arthritis that is impacting your quality of life, its important to talk to your doctor first. They can help diagnose any underlying causes and design a treatment plan to improve your daily life.
For mild to moderate pain, here are our tips for how to help arthritis in the knees. As always, talk with your doctor before starting a new treatment.
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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Articles On Osteoarthritis Treatment
Here are simple ways you can ease osteoarthritis symptoms on your own, at home.
1. Stay active. Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when your arthritis hurts. But many studies show that physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life. Exercise boosts your energy. It can also strengthen your muscles and bones, and help keep your joints flexible. Try resistance training to build stronger muscles. Your muscles protect and support joints affected by arthritis. Go for aerobic workouts to burn calories, which will help you lose weight. Maintaining a healthy weight relieves stress on painful joints. Of course, if you’re experiencing a bad flare-up, it may be better not to exercise until the pain subsides.
2. Eat a balanced diet. Studies show that a variety of nutrients may help ease arthritis symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin C, especially fruits and vegetables, may help. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oil, may also help relieve pain. Experts say it’s best to focus on healthy foods rather than on single nutrients. You can get all the nutrients you need simply by following a balanced diet. Make sure your menu includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, and lean meats such as turkey and pork tenderloin. Also, choose healthy fats, such as nuts and avocados, and healthy oils, including olive and canola oil.
How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you questions about your pain. They will probably ask you if your joint pain gets worse with activity and better with rest. Your doctor will examine you to see if you have trouble moving your joint. Your doctor may order an X-ray or an MRI of the joint thats causing problems to see whats causing the pain. Blood tests can help rule out other forms of arthritis.
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Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Knee: Popular Supplements Dont Work
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting 1 in 10 Canadian adults . The knee is one of the most common and most symptomatically affected joints, causing knee pain in many people. They often try over-the-counter remedies to help the pain, and to avoid knee surgery. Amongst these treatments are the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are very popular.
Because glucosamine and chondroitin are building blocks of cartilage, and because osteoarthritis is related to cartilage degradation, many believe that adding these building blocks to the diet of a person suffering from osteoarthritis will help rebuild cartilage and lessen pain. While on the surface this may seem logical, in reality these supplements do not provide effective pain relief. Heres why:
These popular supplements dont work.
Many studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate do not help to relieve pain from arthritic knees. People who take the supplements often report less pain or swelling of their joints. But people get similar results if they take a placeboa sugar pill with no active ingredients. Pain relieving drugs, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen , help a lot more.
The supplements can be dangerous.
You arent always getting what you think.
To make matters worse, often the labels on the bottles are misleading. In 2013, Consumer Reports tested 16 joint pain supplements and found that seven had less chondroitin than the label listed.
Use drugs carefully.
Turmeric : Treats Inflammation Pain And Stiffness
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. Its is part of the ginger family, but may help OA in different ways. show that the substance may fight inflammatory compounds. It may also help reduce pain and stiffness during an OA flare-up.
For the treatment of arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation recommends the following dosage options:
- capsules: 400 to 600 milligrams up to three times per day
- powdered root extract: 0.5 to 1 gram, three times per day
If taking turmeric, you may need to add black pepper to activate the herbs benefits. While turmeric is generally safe it can cause nausea and may interact with blood thinners.
For more long-term relief, lifestyle changes are often effective. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight maintenance can help improve joint health and function. Over time, the muscles stabilizing your joints will strengthen and protect against damage.
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Adjusting Workouts And Day
While exercise is important to treating knee osteoarthritis, certain physical activities will aggravate the knee joint. These activities should be avoided and substituted with exercises that exert less force on the knee joint.
- People who do high-impact activities, such as jogging and playing soccer, may want to try yoga, cycling, or swimming.
- Backyard gardeners may want to use raised planters, which require less kneeling and squatting.
If the treatment options described in this article do not adequately reduce knee arthritis symptoms, then a health care provider may recommend considering medications, therapeutic injections, or surgery.
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.
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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?
How To Help Arthritis In Knees: The Basics
Your knees are the largest, strongest joint in the body. Knowing a bit about the anatomy can help to appreciate not only their strength but also their unique vulnerabilities.
Knee joints consist of three bones. The femur connects to the tibia and the patella . Cartilage wraps around the end of each bone to protect and smooth movement where the three bones meet.
Two wedges of cartilage called the meniscus act as shock absorbers as the femur presses down into the tibia. Synovial fluid lubricates all of the cartilage in the joint and helps with smooth movement.
In addition, stabilizing ligaments and tendons include:
- Lateral and medial collateral ligaments: Stabilize side-to-side movement
- Posterior and anterior cruciate ligament: Frames movement forward and backwards
Knees absorb the impact of your upper body coming down on the lower leg: every day, all day. This means that everything you dowalking, running, hiking up a mountain, or simply standing up from a seatrelies on healthy knees.
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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.
Physical Therapy For Knee Osteoarthritis
Strengthening Exercises and Other Osteoarthritis Treatments
Physical therapy can be your first line of defense for managing knee OA symptoms.
Having knee osteoarthritis can sometimes seem like a double-edge sword. Overusing your knees can worsen your joint health and knee OA, but the less you move your knees, the weaker they can get. You need to find that balance of keeping your knee joints moving just enough so they’re strong and healthy, and physical therapy helps you do that.
With knee OA, the muscles surrounding the knee can become weak, and the knee joints can become stiff. This makes it difficult to do everyday tasks, such as walking or getting out of bed.
Physical therapy can help to reduce the pain, swelling, and stiffness of knee osteoarthritis, and it can help improve knee joint function. It can also make it easier for you to walk, bend, kneel, squat, and sit. In fact, a 2000 study found that a combination of manual physical therapy and supervised exercise has functional benefits for patients with knee osteoarthritis and may delay or prevent the need for surgery.1
Common Passive Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis
Common Active Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis
Both strengthening and flexibility exercises are important to do because they can help take strain off the knee. Learn more about exercise for knee osteoarthritis in our article about exercising to manage knee osteoarthritis.
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Injections Are Another Low
If other strategies dont provide enough relief, injection therapy is an option with low risk.
A corticosteroid injection involves delivering this anti-inflammatory drug directly to the knee. The benefits are typically short lived. But it varies from person to person. I tell my patients the pain relief can last anywhere from a week to a year, says Dr. Day. One cautionary note with corticosteroids is the potential to increase blood sugar, which is a concern for people with uncontrolled diabetes.
For a possibly longer lasting effect, an injection of hyaluronic acid can be tried. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that healthy joints have a lot of and arthritic knees dont, says Dr. Day. It takes longer to start working than a corticosteroid injection, but the effect often lasts six months to a year.
Currently, research is being done on the effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma , which is not yet covered by insurance. PRP involves drawing some blood, spinning it in a centrifuge, and injecting part of it into the knee.
If youre not able to get your symptoms under control with a combination of these measures, she says, it could be time to talk to your doctor about surgery.
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.