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What Causes Arthritis In The Knee

What Causes Degenerative Joint Disease In The Knee

Solutions for arthritic knee pain

Degenerative joint disease is a common condition that can causesevere knee pain and can interfere with your ability to enjoy normal activities. It most commonly develops among older adults and those who are particularly active, which can put a great deal of repetitive strain on the knee joint.

A healthy knee joint is composed of the bottom of the thigh bone , the top of the shin bone , and the kneecap . The space between these three bone components is cushioned with a protective cartilage that allows the joint to move smoothly. The meniscus, two thick pieces of cartilage, line the area where the thigh bone and shin bone meet and protects the bone.

When arthritis develops, this cartilage in the knee joint begins to wear away, leaving the bones to rub together. This friction can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for those who suffer from arthritis, which often begins to affect their daily activities.

There are three common causes of knee arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis: The protective cartilage wears away over time, meaning the bones begin to rub together and can produce painful bone spurs called osteophytes.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune condition where the bodys immune system begins to attack its own joints. It will lead to painful inflammation in the knee and the destruction of healthy tissue.
  • Posttraumatic arthritis: A serious knee injury can damage the joint, eventually leading to arthritis.

Do: Warm Up And Cool Down Before And After You Exercise

Dont jump right into your workouts if you have knee osteoarthritis, Wyss says. In general, a warm-up lubricates your joints so you’re less stiff and its easier to move, which lowers the risk of sustaining any injury during your workout. Cooling down helps you reset after exercise. A physical therapist or trainer can instruct you on the appropriate warm-up and cool-down exercises for you, he says.

Knee Pain At A Glance

  • The knee joint has three compartments.
  • Causes of knee pain include injury, degeneration, arthritis, infrequently infection, and rarely bone tumors.
  • Ligaments within the knee and on the inner and outer sides of the knee stabilize the joint.
  • Surgical repair of ligament injury can involve suturing, grafting, and synthetic graft repair.
  • Routine X-rays do not reveal meniscus tears, but can be used to exclude other problems of the bones and other tissues.
  • The knee joint is commonly involved in rheumatic diseases, immune diseases that affect various tissues of the body including the joints.

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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.

When our knees are not healthy, the resulting knee pain can make it challenging to go about our normal daily activities or even get to sleep at night.

History Of Knee Injury

Knee Arthritis, Patient Education

Arthritis that develops due to trauma to the knee joints is called post-traumatic knee arthritis. Damage to the knee bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, or other components of the joint increases your risk of developing knee arthritis later on, because the integrity of the joint is compromised.

If you engage in strenuous physical activity or play sports, see an orthopedist for advice on how to avoid developing arthritis when performing your activities. Osteoarthritis is oftentimes preventable.

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What Are The Treatments For Arthritic Knee Pain

After determining that your knee pain is, in fact, caused by arthritis, Dr. Williams and the caring staff at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to help you as quickly and reliably as possible. Some of the most widely known and used treatments for arthritis and arthritic knee pain include:

  • NSAIDs
  • Knee injections
  • Fluid drainage
  • Surgery
  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy

In addition to these methods, Dr. Williams is proud to offer the breakthrough Regenexx family of nonsurgical treatments, which are designed to use a patients own stem cells to treat common and degenerative conditions without the need for going under the knife. While there are certainly some cases in which surgery may be unavoidable, Regenexx treatment has proven to be highly beneficial for chronic pain relief caused by a large number of conditions.

Where Can Arthritis Occur In The Knee

Cartilage loss can occur between the thighbone and the shinbone in the medial portion , lateral portion and under the kneecap.

  • Thinning of the cartilage under the kneecap is called patellofemoral arthritis .
  • Some patients have cartilage loss in one, two or all of these areas. When all three areas are affected, this is called tricompartmental arthritis.

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How Can I Manage Oa And Improve My Quality Of Life

CDCs Arthritis Program recommends five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms.

  • Learn self-management skills. Join a self-management education class, which helps people with arthritis and other chronic conditionsincluding OAunderstand how arthritis affects their lives and increase their confidence in controlling their symptoms and living well. Learn more about the CDC-recommended self-management education programs.
  • Get physically active. Experts recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes per week of at least moderate physical activity. Every minute of activity counts, and any activity is better than none. Moderate, low impact activities recommended include walking, swimming, or biking. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Learn more about physical activity for arthritis.
  • Go to effective physical activity programs. For people who worry that physical activity may make OA worse or are unsure how to exercise safely, participation in physical activity programs can help reduce pain and disability related to arthritis and improve mood and the ability to move. Classes take place at local Ys, parks, and community centers. These classes can help people with OA feel better. Learn more about CDC-recommended physical activity programs.

How Are Knee Problems Diagnosed

Causes of Inside Knee Pain, Arthritis, Ligament, Meniscus and Cartilage Injury | Video 57

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, other tests for knee problems may include:

  • X-ray. This test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.

  • Computed tomography scan . This test uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

  • Arthroscopy. A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube , which is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen used to evaluate any degenerative or arthritic changes in the joint to detect bone diseases and tumors to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

  • Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient’s bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.

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Can Imaging Exams Detect Arthritis

Imaging exams can help your healthcare provider get a clear picture of your bones, joints and soft tissues. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound can reveal:

  • Bone fractures or dislocations that may be causing you joint pain.
  • Cartilage breakdown around your joints.
  • Muscle, ligament or tendon injuries near your joints.
  • Soft tissue inflammation.

Cracking Or Popping Sounds

When you bend or straighten your knee, you may feel a grinding sensation or hear cracking or popping sounds. Doctors call this crepitus.

These symptoms can occur when youve lost some of the cartilage that helps with smooth range of motion. Both OA and RA can result in cartilage damage.

When cartilage is damaged, rough surfaces and bone spurs develop. As you move your joints, these irregular areas rub against each other.

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What Does Knee Pain Caused By Arthritis Feel Like

With the immense amount of pressure and strain put on our knees day after day and year after year, it is not surprising that knee pain is such a widespread complaint in men and women of all ages in Atlanta, GA. While there are certainly some more serious causes of knee pain, in a large number of people, knee pain is temporary and, relatively, harmless. However, if you think the pain in your knees may be caused by arthritis, here are a few telltale signs and symptoms to watch for:

Special Cartilage In The Knee

Running and Osteoarthritis

Each knee has two moon-shaped sections of cartilage, each called a meniscus. The lateral meniscus is located in the outer knee near your hands when you are standing up with your arms at your sides and the medial meniscus is in the inner knee. When someone has a torn ACL in the knee, they are also likely to have a torn meniscus.

The more wear-and-tear and injury that is caused to this cartilage, the more likely you are to develop arthritis in the knee. This is because the menisci cannot fully perform their job as a cushion between the knee bones.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Knee Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee may include:

  • pain that increases when you are active, but gets a little better with rest
  • swelling
  • feeling of warmth in the joint
  • stiffness in the knee, especially in the morning or when you have been sitting for a while
  • creaking, crackly sound that is heard when the knee moves

Is Walking Good For Knee Arthritis

Although it may seem counterintuitive, walking can help decrease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. In addition, any form of exercise that helps you maintain a healthy weight can reduce the stress on your joints, and this may slow the progression of your arthritis. You should, however, consult a doctor to confirm that your knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis rather than by an injury for which resting would be appropriate. A physical therapist can help determine appropriate levels of exercise for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

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What Age Does Knee Arthritis Strike

Its possible to develop either category of knee arthritis at virtually any age. However, osteoarthritis of the knee most commonly occurs in people over age 40. Thats because its most often caused by the wear and tear that occurs in your knee joint as you age. As a result, the cartilage that cushions your knee begins to break down.

When we do see knee osteoarthritis in younger people its usually because they experienced trauma to the knee that triggered cartilage loss, says Dr. Domingues.

Certain types of inflammatory arthritis, in contrast, are more likely to develop earlier in life. Ankylosing spondylitis frequently develops between ages 20 and 40, while the age of onset of psoriatic arthritis is usually between 30 and 50.

What You Need To Know

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  • Knee arthritis occurs when the cushioning cartilage in the joint wears down, making the knee stiff and painful with certain movements.
  • Osteoarthritis gradual, age-related degeneration of cartilage is the most common form of arthritis in the knee, but trauma and autoimmune conditions can also lead to cartilage damage.
  • The cartilage damage associated with arthritis is irreversible, but there are nonsurgical and surgical treatments that can help reduce pain, increase joint flexibility and improve overall quality of life for people with knee arthritis.

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Brief Anatomy Of The Knee

The knee is a vulnerable joint that bears a great deal of stress from everyday activities, such as lifting and kneeling, and from high-impact activities, such as jogging and aerobics.

The knee is formed by the following parts:

  • Tibia. This is the shin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.

  • Femur. This is the thighbone or upper leg bone.

  • Patella. This is the kneecap.

Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Basically, the knee is 2 long leg bones held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

There are 2 groups of muscles involved in the knee, including the quadriceps muscles , which straighten the legs, and the hamstring muscles , which bend the leg at the knee.

Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments on the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia .

Dmards For Rheumatoid Arthritis

People with RA, an auto-immune disease, may need drugs that affect the whole system, and not only the knee joint.

A doctor may recommend one of a new class of drugs, known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs .

These include:

  • tofacitinib

Doctors can also use corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation in the knee joint. However, these usually offer only short-term pain relief, and long-term use can have adverse effects.

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Repetitive Stress On The Knee

Sports and occupations that require you to put excess pressure on your knees, such as running, using stairs, and carrying heavy loads, can increase your risk of developing knee arthritis. Repetitive motions that involve the knees, such as squatting while gardening, can also cause knee arthritis.

The prolonged or heavy pressure on your knee joints causes the protective cartilage in the joints to wear down. Without cartilage, adjacent bones in a joint rub against each other, causing arthritic pain and inflammation.

This is also why arthritis is more common as we get older, because we perform various motions many times over the years. This can cause eventual wear-and-tear on the joints.

How To Treat Arthritis In The Knees

Overview of Osteoarthritis With Pictures

This article was medically reviewed by Troy A. Miles, MD. Dr. Miles is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Adult Joint Reconstruction in California. He received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2010, followed by a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and fellowship at the University of California, Davis. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the North Pacific Orthopaedic Society.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 63,035 times.

Research suggests that treatment may slow down arthritis and relieve your symptoms, though there’s no cure for it.XTrustworthy SourceNational Health Service Public healthcare system of the UKGo to source Arthritis occurs when your joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage in your joint wears away, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks your joints. Experts say arthritis in the knee is very common because it’s a weight-bearing joint, but you can get arthritis in any joint.XResearch source Although arthritis may interfere with your life, you may be able to manage your condition.

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How To Tell If You Have Arthritis In Your Knee

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic or acute knee pain each year, and it can be difficult to get appropriate treatment and much-needed relief without knowing the actual cause of the pain. Since many conditions can have symptoms that mimic one another, it is important to seek the advice of a professional when seeking a diagnosis, treatment, or therapy for your knee pain. Dr. Christopher Williams and the knowledgeable team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta are highly experienced in assessing a vast array of bone, joint, and muscle symptoms and are dedicated to helping patients determine the cause of their pain and realize quick, effective, and long-lasting relief.

Knee Arthritis Treatment And Prevention In Palm Beach

Dont be one of the many people who accept joint pain as part of getting older or a part of life. If you suspect that you have knee arthritis, see an orthopedist who can properly diagnose and treat your condition, so you can live with much less pain.

Here at Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches, we offer comprehensive orthopedic care for patients with arthritis and sports injuries. Our team is composed of board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons, and our goal is to help you return to your active lifestyle as quickly and safely as possible.

To schedule an appointment, contact us at Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches today by calling us at 733-5888, or request an appointment now by using our handy online form. We look forward to helping you feel great again!

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