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What Causes Osteoarthritis In The Knee

How Can I Prevent Osteoarthritis Of The Knee

Causes of Osteoarthritis | Knee Exercises

While you cant always prevent osteoarthritis of the knee, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk youll develop it:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you jog or run, do so on grass or soft surfaces.
  • Vary your fitness routine with low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling.
  • Add light strength training to your fitness routine.

Heat And Cold Therapy

You can experiment with heat or cold therapy to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. Apply a cold or hot compress to sore joints for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day.

There are a number of different types of OA medications that can help provide relief from pain or swelling. They include:

  • Oral analgesics. Tylenol and other pain relievers reduce pain but not swelling.
  • Topical analgesics. These OTC products are available as creams, gels, and patches. They help to numb the joint area and can provide pain relief, especially for mild arthritis pain.
  • NSAIDs . NSAIDs such as Advil and Aleve reduce swelling as well as pain.
  • Cymbalta. Your doctor may prescribe the antidepressant Cymbalta for you off-label to help provide OA pain relief.
  • Corticosteroids. These prescription medications are available in oral form. They may also be given by injection directly into a joint.

Other remedies can range from taking Epsom salt baths to using hot or cold compresses.

You should discuss with your doctor any herbs or supplements youre considering before you use them. This will help ensure that theyre safe and effective, and wont interfere with other medications youre taking. Interested in more natural home remedies for OA? Heres what works.

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
  • Surgery

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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How Do I Know If I Have Osteoarthritis

Unlike other types of arthritis, the pain from osteoarthritis usually develops gradually over many months or years. Often it increases with activities that put stress on the joint, such as running or prolonged walking. Pain and joint swelling tend to increase slowly over time. Sometimes, especially in more advanced disease, a sensation of crunching or grinding may be noticed in affected joints. Prolonged morning stiffness is not a prominent symptom in OA as compared to inflammatory arthritides, such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis does not usually cause fevers, weight loss, or very hot and red joints. These features suggest some other condition or type of arthritis.

Your healthcare provider can typically diagnose osteoarthritis by obtaining a complete history of your symptoms and examining your joints. X-rays may be helpful to make sure there is no other reason for the pain. Magnetic resonance imaging is generally not needed except in unusual circumstances or in cases when the cartilage or surrounding ligament tear is suspected. There are no blood tests that diagnose osteoarthritis. If a joint is particularly swollen, a doctor may need to drain fluid from that joint. Tests can be performed on the fluid to look for clues for other types of arthritis, such as gout.

What Are The Risk Factors For Oa

10 Recommendations To Thrive With Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Joint injury or overuseInjury or overuse, such as knee bending and repetitive stress on a joint, can damage a joint and increase the risk of OA in that joint.
  • AgeThe risk of developing OA increases with age.
  • GenderWomen are more likely to develop OA than men, especially after age 50.
  • ObesityExtra weight puts more stress on joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. This stress increases the risk of OA in that joint. Obesity may also have metabolic effects that increase the risk of OA.
  • GeneticsPeople who have family members with OA are more likely to develop OA. People who have hand OA are more likely to develop knee OA.
  • Race Some Asian populations have lower risk for OA.

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What Is Knee Osteoarthritis

Two healthy knees are ideal in order to lead an active lifestyle. Your knees are among the hardest-working joints in your body. Depending on your activity, these joints withstand the force of several times your weight. For instance, whereas swimming puts minimal stress on your knees, running or jumping requires strong, healthy knees.

The knee joint is a hinge joint where the lower end of your thighbone meets the upper end of your shinbone . Also within the joint, youll find the kneecap , ligaments that are strong bands of tissue that stabilize the bones of the knee, cartilage that offers cushioning between the bones, and synovial fluid that provides for smooth movements without friction.

Knee osteoarthritis can develop after a knee injury, but often the damage occurs over a lifetime as the activity of daily living, high-impact activities, and repetitive movements all create stress on the joints. This can lead to local inflammation and damage to the different components of the knee joint.

As a joints synovial fluid changes, the bony parts of the knee lose protection. Also, as the cartilage wears down including that of the meniscus the space in the knee narrows, possibly to the point where bones are rubbing together.

You Arent Exercising Which Is Bad For Your Knees

It may seem counterintuitive to exercise if you have joint pain, but the Arthritis Foundation tells people to be active. The knee joint loves motion, says Brian Halpern, MD, a sports medicine physician with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and author of The Knee Crisis Handbook. The challenge is to find the best types of activities for you. Dr. Halpern recommends bicycling, swimming, and elliptical trainers, as well as strengthening exercises that help muscles support the knee joint.

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How Is Severe Osteoarthritis Diagnosed

Medical professionals can diagnose osteoarthritis in a number of ways but X-Rays and MRI machines are two of the more common methods. X-rays and MRIs are both used to help see the distance between the bones in the affected joint, and in the case of MRIs, the state of the cartilage. X-Rays are fantastic at producing images of bone by using light that is invisible to our eyes but can pass through skin and other soft tissue but cannot pass through bone. This effect is also why the cartilage cannot be seen in an X-ray so medical professionals will instead measure the space between the bones in the affected area. MRI Machines use powerful magnets that face different levels of resistance from the different materials in the body to deliver detailed slices of the observed area. These slices are high-resolution images that can show cartilage, bone and other types of tissue in much greater detail than an X-ray. MRIs are however much more costly so their use is much less common depending on the severity of the condition as well as access.

Dont: Be Afraid To Use Assistive Devices If You Have Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Canes and knee braces can play a role in decreasing knee osteoarthritis pain and improving function, Pisetsky says. There can be a period of time when knee pain is disabling but its not the right time for surgery, so thats when assistive devices can make a difference, he explains. An occupational therapist can work with you to choose appropriate assistive devices.

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How Do I Take Care Of Myself With Knee Osteoarthritis

It can be frustrating to cope with osteoarthritis of the knee symptoms that keep you from working or enjoying daily activities. Fortunately, there are several things you can do for your symptoms:

  • Applying ice or heat reduces your knee pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight takes stress off your knees.
  • Enjoying activities such as swimming, biking or walking keeps your knee joint flexible.
  • Using a knee brace or adding shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes can reduce pressure on your knees.
  • Participating in self-management programs can help you feel more in control of your health.

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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Symptoms And Causes Of Knee Osteoarthritis

May 7, 2021

Have you been bothered by knee pain? Is the pain becoming bad enough that you are constantly taking over-the-counter medication? Does the pain prevent you from doing things you like to do or need to do?

Knee pain is one of the most common complaints that doctors hear from their patients, and osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of this pain. Knee osteoarthritis can affect anyone, but it is more common as we get older. It can also affect young athletes who put a lot of wear-and-tear on the knee joint. Arthritis can be the cause of chronic joint pain, but it can also cause acute, sudden, severe pain.

One of the worst consequences of knee osteoarthritis is that the pain can be debilitating, keeping you from doing the things you love and need to do. If left untreated, arthritis can lead to other related health problems such as a decline in activity, weight gain, and the need to rely on others to help with basic and simple tasks necessary in life.

What Else Could The Pain Be

What Causes Osteoarthritis

It is very important to correctly diagnose osteoarthritis. A misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment and potentially worsen your symptoms.

Other issues that cause pain around the knee are runners knee, other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, mechanical injuries, or even soft tissue rheumatism.

If youre not sure of your diagnosis, its important to arrange a physiotherapy appointment for an expert assessment.

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Causes Of Osteoarthritis Of Knee

Osteoarthritis is something considered as associated with aged people, but younger to middle age individuals also face this problem over time. However, scientists are noticing that Osteoarthritis is a disease that has some others to be considered and not just an age factor-based.

Here are a few causes of OA

  • The chances of being OA attacked increases with age as along with the years passed, the age of muscles, bones, and joints also grows.
  • Any kind of break or tear in the joints can lead to OA as time passes.
  • Excessive usage of joints like in some jobs or sports can result in Osteoarthritis.
  • Overweight increases stress on joints causing increased chances of OA
  • Weak muscles cannot give much support resulting in the mispositioning of the joints which is a cause too.
  • It is also observed that OA can be hereditary too.
  • Certain health illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic disorders seem to be more likely to suffer from Osteoarthritis.

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.

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How Will It Affect Me

If you have osteoarthritis of the knee, you will probably feel your knee is painful and stiff at times. It may only affect one knee, especially if youve injured it in the past, or you could have it in both. The pain may feel worse at the end of the day, or when you move your knee, and it may improve when you rest. You might have some stiffness in the morning, but this wont usually last more than half an hour.

The pain can be felt all around your knee, or just in a certain place such as the front and sides. It might feel worse after moving your knee in a particular way, such as going up or down stairs.

Sometimes, people have pain that wakes them up in the night. Youll probably find that the pain varies and that you have good and bad days.

You might find you cant move your knee as easily or as far as normal, or it might creak or crunch as you move it.

Sometimes your knee might look swollen. This can be caused by two things:

  • Hard swelling: when the bone at the edge of the joint grows outwards, forming bony spurs, called osteophytes .
  • Soft swelling: when your joint becomes inflamed and produces extra fluid, sometimes called an effusion or water on the knee.

Sometimes osteoarthritis of the knee can cause the muscles in the thighs to weaken, so your leg may look thinner. This weakness can make the joint feel unstable and could cause the knee to give way when you put weight on it.

Knee Arthritis In Young People Often Result Of Previous Injury

Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the knee is usually thought to affect only senior citizens. Thats because it is often associated with aging, genetics, and gradual wear and tear on weight bearing joints over time. But osteoarthritis which is marked by joint pain and stiffness can also affect much younger people.

Research shows a joint injury suffered at any age increases the risk of early onset osteoarthritis. In the knee, for example, sports injuries such anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus tears are associated with rapid or early onset post-traumatic arthritis, a form of osteoarthritis.

Because these type of injuries occur in our prime athletic years during high school and college, its not uncommon for people in their 40s and 50s to have advanced stages of osteoarthritis, says William Bugbee, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Scripps Clinic.

Early diagnosis important

It can take a while for old knee injuries to cause ongoing symptoms. Symptoms can usually be managed but damage to joints cant be reversed. That is why early diagnosis is critical for effective treatment.

Medical treatment of knee osteoarthritis in young people does not differ from its management in the general population, says Dr. Bugbee.

In many cases, people with knee osteoarthritis can make lifestyle changes to help reduce pain, slow progression of the disease and help improve joint function. If symptoms become severe, knee replacement is an option, but this is generally reserved for older adults.

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Etiology And Risk Factors Of Knee Oa

OA has a multifactorial etiologies, which occurs due to interplay between systemic and local factors. Osteoarthritis affects all ages. The etiology of this debilitating disease in which several responsible genes are linked for its occurance. Sports participation, injury to the joint, obesity, and genetic susceptibility predispose adolescent athletes to the development of premature osteoarthritis. Previous knee trauma increases the risk of knee OA 3.86 times . Old age, female gender, overweight and obesity, knee injury, repetitive use of joints, bone density, muscle weakness, and joint laxity all play roles in the development of joint OA Determination of risk factors particularly in the weight-bearing joints and their modification may reduce the risk of OA and prevent subsequent pain and disability . Mechanical forces exerted on the joints are a significant cause of OA and one of the most modifiable risk factors as determined by body BMI. Female sex, lower educational levels, obesity, and poor muscular strength are associated with symptomatic disease and subsequent disability .

In a review of literature 14 contributing variables including occupational and personal were considered as risk factors. Two factors of kneeling and squatting are considered the main primary risk factors in correlation with knee disorders .

Complementary And Alternative Medicine

A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee found only short-term benefit, which the authors described as clinically irrelevant.28 Acupuncture can be of benefit in chronic low back pain, but studies do not differentiate the etiology of the back pain.29

The most widely used supplements for osteoarthritis are glucosamine and chondroitin. The literature consisted of small clinical trials until the release of the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial , which included more than 1,500 patients. The trial had five arms comparing glucosamine alone, chondroitin alone, a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin, celecoxib, and placebo. The results were favorable only for the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin, which appeared to be effective for moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee.30 Chondroitin alone did not show benefit for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip in a meta-analysis.31

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Does Osteoarthritis Of The Knee Cause Bone Pain

Osteoarthritis of the knee causes your leg bones to rub together, which can lead to painful bone spurs.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Osteoarthritis of the knee develops over time. You might not notice the twinge or ache that could be the first sign of knee osteoarthritis. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have knee pain thats getting worse. Your provider can help you treat your symptoms and keep you moving. Early treatment can ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee and slow its progress.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/08/2021.

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