What Causes Arthritis
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. What causes most types is unknown. Because there are so many different types there are likely to be many different causes.
Scientists are currently researching what roles three major factors play in certain types of arthritis. These include the genetic factors you inherit from your parents, what happens to you during your life and how you live. The importance of these factors varies for every type of arthritis.
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.
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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Points To Remember About Arthritis
- “Arthritis” means joint inflammation. Although joint inflammation is a symptom or sign rather than a specific diagnosis, the term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints.
- There are many types of arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Medications and surgery can treat arthritis.
- Activities that can help reduce symptoms at home include exercise hot and cold therapies relaxation therapies splints and braces and assistive devices.
Youre Ignoring Depression Which Can Worsen Pain
Depression, sleep problems, and osteoarthritis pain appear to be linked, according to a study published in March 2015 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research that assessed sleep, pain, and depression symptoms in 288 adults over the course of a year. The anxiety, stress, and worry that can go along with someone whos depressed may minimize their ability to cope with osteoarthritis, Johnson says. If you think you may be depressed, seek treatment immediately.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis
Symptoms of arthritis include pain and stiffness in your joints, inflammation around the joints and limited joint movement. There are many different types of arthritis, each with different symptoms.
Its normal to experience aches and pains, especially if youve carried out strenuous activity. But if your symptoms are unexplained, dont go away within a few days or if they are impacting your day-to-day life, you should visit your doctor.
Factors That Predict Cartilage Loss In The Knee
Researchers have analyzed cartilage loss in the knee joint and found that three factors predict it — medial meniscal damage, lateral meniscal damage, and varus malalignment of the knee joint.
Another study concurred, revealing that top risk factors that contribute to rapid cartilage loss include cartilage damage, meniscus tears, other injuries to the meniscus, and severe lesions observable on MRI. Synovitis and joint effusion also were predictors of cartilage loss. Interestingly, excess weight was a significant factor as well. For every 1-unit increase in body mass index , the risk of rapid cartilage loss increased by 11%.
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What Type Of Doctor Treats Knee Arthritis
Osteoarthritis of the knee may be treated by a sports medicine physician or an orthopedic surgeon, depending on your particular condition. A physical therapist may be able to treat less severe cases to help reduce pain and increase your mobility. If you knee pain is a result of rheumatoid arthritis, gout or other form of inflammatory arthritis, you should consult a rheumatologist.
Preventing Arthritis Of The Knee
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How Does Arthritis Feel
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.
The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.
It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.
Arthritis can make it hard to do the movements you rely on every day for work or taking care of your family.
What The Knee Needs
Your bones and cartilage need regular movement to keep them healthy, and also to strengthen the knee’s surrounding muscles, which protects the joint from excess stress, says Dr. Tenforde.
Not only can being active keep knee osteoarthritis from becoming worse, it also may reduce the risk of getting the disease in the first place. A study in the June 2017 Journal of Orthopaedic& Sports Physical Therapy reviewed 17 studies that involved almost 115,000 people and looked for a connection between running and osteoarthritis in the hip, knee, or both.
Researchers found that only 3.5% of recreational runners people who run for exercise and also compete in races like 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons got knee or hip osteoarthritis, compared with 10% of people who were not active.
Also, a 2015 study found among people who had mild knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for the disease, those who walked an average of almost 7,000 steps per day about 3.5 miles did not experience any additional cartilage loss over a two-year period.
If you have a high level of knee pain that makes movement difficult, Dr. Tenforde recommends you begin with lower-impact activities that place less stress on your knees. For instance, swimming and other forms of water aerobics offer buoyancy, so there is less impact on your knees. Elliptical trainers and stationary bikes are also good low-impact activities.
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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.
Make The Right Move: See A Physical Therapist
Your knee pain also may stem from a biomechanical issue that can wear down the joint at a faster rate. A physical therapist can analyze how you move to see if you have an alignment issue or if the way your foot lands places extra stress on your knee. “Changing how you move can help ease existing pain as well as reduce your risk of a knee injury,” says Dr. Adam Tenforde, a Harvard sports medicine physician.
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Youre Passing On Fruits And Vegetables Which Can Help You Lose Weight
People who eat more fruit, as well as those who are active and generally in good health, tend to have lower levels of osteoarthritis pain, according to the results of a survey of 197 adults published in September 2015 in the journal Pain Research & Management. Plus, eating healthier and being active can help reduce weight, which can also help reduce stress on the knee joint. In general, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, and avoid processed foods if you need to lose weight, says Dr. Johnson.
Complementary And Alternative Therapies
Some people with osteoarthritis try complementary or alternative therapies â such as acupuncture and aromatherapy â and find them helpful, although there is often a lack of medical evidence to suggest they are effective and they generally arenât recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence .
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What You Need To Know
- 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.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Osteoarthritis
Researchers suspect that osteoarthritis is caused by a combination of factors in the body and the environment. The chance of developing osteoarthritis increases with age.
Putting too much stress on a joint that has been previously injured, improper alignment of joints, and excess weight all may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
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How Is Knee Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some of the following diagnostic tests and procedures to determine if you have knee arthritis:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Blood tests for genetic markers or RA antibodies
- X-rays to determine cartilage loss in the knee
- Joint aspiration: drawing out and testing the synovial fluid inside the knee joint
Cartilage cannot be seen on X-ray, but narrowing of the joint space between the bones indicates lost cartilage. X-rays show bone spurs and cysts, which can be caused by osteoarthritis. Other tests such as MRI or CT scans are rarely needed for diagnosis.
How Can I Ease Arthritis Pain
If you are looking for ways to reduce arthritis pain or maintain your knee surgery results, there are a number of things you can do to help alleviate pain. While there is no true cure for arthritis, there are many things you can do to help reduce arthritis pain. Some of those things include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
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How Is The Knee Designed And What Is Its Function
The knee is a joint which has three parts. The thigh bone meets the large shin bone forming the main knee joint. This joint has an inner and an outer compartment. The kneecap joins the femur to form a third joint, called the patellofemoral joint.
The knee joint is surrounded by a joint capsule with ligaments strapping the inside and outside of the joint as well as crossing within the joint . These ligaments provide stability and strength to the knee joint.
The meniscus is a thickened cartilage pad between the two joints formed by the femur and tibia. The meniscus acts as a smooth surface for the joint to move on. The knee joint is surrounded by fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which serve as gliding surfaces that reduce friction of the tendons. There is a large tendon which envelopes the knee cap and attaches to the front of the tibia bone. There are large blood vessels passing through the area behind the knee . The large muscles of the thigh move the knee. In the front of the thigh, the quadriceps muscles extend, or straighten, the knee joint by pulling on the patellar tendon. In the back of the thigh, the hamstring muscles flex, or bend, the knee. The knee also rotates slightly under guidance of specific muscles of the thigh.
Other Injections: Hyaluronic Acid Botox And More
Some people have used other types of injections for OA of the knee.
However, experts from the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation dont currently recommend using these, as theres not enough evidence that they work.
Examples of other types of injections include:
- hyaluronic acid injections, also known as viscosupplementation
You may not know exactly what type of injection youre receiving or what the effect might be.
Always discuss the pros and cons of any treatment with your doctor before starting, so that you can make an informed decision.
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What Is Cartilage Loss
Cartilage loss is defined by a decrease in cartilage volume and thickness. It occurs after cartilage wears away or deteriorates.
With the cartilage loss of severe osteoarthritis, the joint space narrows and bone rubs on bone after cartilage loss occurs . At that point, there is little or no cartilage left to do its job as a shock absorber. In the case of knees and hips, replacement surgery is the solution.
What Is Knee Arthritis
Knee arthritis is inflammation and deterioration of knee joint cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery coating on the ends of bones that serves as a cushion and allows the knee to smoothly bend and straighten. Knee cartilage coats the end of the thighbone , top of the shinbone and the backside of the kneecap . When cartilage wears away, the space between the bones narrows. In advanced arthritis, bone rubs on bone and bone spurs may form.
Damage to the joint cartilage over time may result in the development or worsening of deformities of the knee, including knock knees and bowleg.
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Reducing The Strain On Your Knees
Apart from keeping an eye on your weight, there are a number of other ways you can reduce the strain on your knees.
- Pace your activities dont tackle all your physical jobs at once. Break the harder jobs up into chunks and do something gentler in between. Keep using your knee even if its slightly uncomfortable, but rest it before it becomes too painful.
- Wear shoes with thick soles and enough room for your toes. Wearing the right shoes can reduce the shock through your knees as you walk and prevent any changes to your feet.
- If you need extra support for your feet or knees when you walk, speak to your physiotherapist, occupational therapist or doctor about getting insoles made for your shoes.
- Use a walking stick if needed to reduce the weight and stress on a painful knee. An occupational therapist can advise on the correct length and the best way to use the stick.
- Use a handrail for support when going up or down stairs. Go upstairs one at a time with your good leg first.
- Think about making changes to your home, car or workplace to reduce unnecessary strain. An occupational therapist can advise you on special equipment that will make things you do every day easier.
Using a heat pack or something similar on a painful knee might help to relieve the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. An ice pack can also help but be careful not to put ice or heat packs or hot water bottles directly on your skin wrap them with a tea towel or cover.