Kevin M. Moran, MD

Knee Arthritis

Aug 04, 2023
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What is knee arthritis?

Knee arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis of the knee, is a degenerative joint disease that affects the knee joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones within a joint starts to wear down over time. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones may begin to rub against each other, leading to pain, swelling, and limited joint movement.

The knee joint is particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis due to its weight-bearing function and the repetitive stresses it endures during walking, running, and other activities.

Causes and risk factors for knee arthritis include:

  • Age: The risk of knee arthritis increases with age as the cartilage naturally becomes less resilient over time.
  • Overuse or Injury: Previous knee injuries, such as ligament tears or fractures, can increase the likelihood of developing knee arthritis later in life.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts additional stress on the knee joints, accelerating the breakdown of cartilage.
  • Family History: A family history of osteoarthritis may predispose individuals to develop knee arthritis.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop knee arthritis than men, particularly after menopause.
  • Joint Misalignment: Structural abnormalities in the knee joint can lead to uneven wear and tear on the cartilage.

Symptoms of knee arthritis may include:

  • Knee pain: Pain may be mild at first and worsen over time, especially with activity or weight-bearing.
  • Stiffness: The knee joint may feel stiff, making it challenging to bend or straighten the leg fully.
  • Swelling: The knee might become swollen due to inflammation within the joint.
  • Reduced Range of Motion: The ability to move the knee through its full range of motion may be limited.
  • Grating Sensation: A grating or crunching sensation (crepitus) may be felt during knee movement.
  • Weakness: Muscle weakness around the knee joint may develop due to reduced activity and pain.

While there is no cure for knee arthritis, several treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve joint function:

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active with low-impact exercises, and avoiding excessive knee strain can be beneficial.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can develop a tailored exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and improve mobility.
  • Pain Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications may help alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections can provide temporary relief of pain and inflammation.
  • Assistive Devices: Using a cane or knee brace can help reduce pressure on the affected knee.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments are not effective, surgical options such as knee arthroscopy or knee replacement may be considered.

If you suspect you have knee arthritis or are experiencing persistent knee pain, make an appointment with Dr. Kevin Moran, a board certified orthopedic surgeon for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management plan. Early intervention and appropriate care can help slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for individuals with knee arthritis.