Arthritis is a degenerative disease that destroys the cartilage in a joint. Arthritis most commonly affects the hip, knee and hand. When arthritis affects a joint, the cartilage loses its smooth, glistening surface and becomes rough and irregular. The result is further destruction of the rest of the joint as the imperfect surfaces contact one another.
In response, the joint may attempt to create new bone in the form of bone spurs, which can be quite painful. Eventually, pieces of bone and cartilage can break off and end up floating in the joint fluid, which causes yet further destruction to the once-smooth surfaces. The end result is partial or complete destruction of the joint.
Arthritis can be caused by a fracture or other joint injury, but also can be hereditary or due to unknown causes.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Although it can be a hereditary condition, the wear and tear of sports and other activities may increase the risk for osteoarthritis in athletes and active individuals. Osteoarthritis may begin after a specific traumatic injury, as a result of repeated minor injuries or after years of overuse and chronic stress on the knee.
Contributing factors that put people at risk of osteoarthritis include:
- Age — The majority of people suffering from arthritis are over 45 years old. By 60, most people have some signs of mild osteoarthritis. However, athletes and active individuals sometimes develop osteoarthritis at a younger age because their active lifestyle places additional stress on their knees.
- Weight — Extra pounds put added stress on your knees. Controlling your weight can help relieve some of the pain associated with arthritis, and also can help you avoid getting arthritis.
- Activities — Both overusing and under using your knees can increase your risk of osteoarthritis. While overuse can excessively grind down joint cartilage, under use can stiffen and weaken the muscles that help absorb shock.
- Genetics — Some people who suffer from osteoarthritis may have inherited a propensity to develop the disease.
- Abnormal Body Structure — Knees that are not aligned properly or not matched in size, length or strength may cause slight imbalances that increase stress and cause premature arthritis.
- Injury — Trauma can injure the cartilage and prematurely wear out the knee. Ligament injuries, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, also can damage the cartilage.
Signs of osteoarthritis usually include chronic aches and pains as well as swelling and heat in and around the knee. In addition, osteoarthritis can cause morning joint stiffness that usually loosens up during the day. Arthritic pain may begin gradually and increase slowly with time. It is often accompanied by locking or catching in the joint.
Treatment of knee arthritis range from behavior change through to surgery. Not all treatments are appropriate for every patient, and you should have a discussion with your doctor to determine which treatments are appropriate for your case.
- Weight Loss
- Activity Modification
- Walking Aids
- Physical Therapy
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications
- Cortisone Injections
- Joint Supplements (Glucosamine)
- Knee Arthroscopy
- Knee Osteotomy
- Total Knee Replacement Surgery
- Partial Knee Replacement Surgery