What is Arthritis of the Knee?

  • Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints
  • Knee arthritis can make it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs.
  • The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but there are more than 100 different forms

Nonsurgical Treatment

The initial treatment of arthritis of the knee is nonsurgical. Your doctor may recommend a range of treatment options.

Lifestyle modifications. Some changes in your daily life can protect your knee joint and slow the progress of arthritis.

Physical therapy. Specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as help strengthen the muscles in your leg.

Assistive devices. Using devices such as a cane, wearing shock-absorbing shoes or inserts, or wearing a brace or knee sleeve can be helpful.

Other remedies. Applying heat or ice, using pain-relieving ointments or creams, or wearing elastic bandages to provide support to the knee may provide some relief from pain.

Medications. Over-the-counter, non-narcotic pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are usually the first choice of therapy for arthritis of the knee.

Surgical Treatment

Your doctor may recommend surgery if your pain from arthritis causes disability and is not relieved with nonsurgical treatment

Arthroscopy. Arthroscopic surgery is not often used to treat arthritis of the knee.

Cartilage grafting. Normal, healthy cartilage tissue may be taken from another part of the knee or from a tissue bank to fill a hole in the articular cartilage. This procedure is typically considered only for younger patients who have small areas of cartilage damage.

Synovectomy. The joint lining damaged by rheumatoid arthritis is removed to reduce pain and swelling.

Osteotomy. In a knee osteotomy, either the tibia (shinbone) or femur (thighbone) is cut and then reshaped to relieve pressure on the knee joint.

Total or partial knee replacement (arthroplasty). Your doctor will remove the damaged cartilage and bone, and then position new metal or plastic joint surfaces to restore the function of your knee.

Our Treatment Approach

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatment options available to help manage pain and keep people staying active.

Description

The major types of arthritis that affect the knee are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Also known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, it destroys the smooth outer covering of bone and wears away and the protective space between the bones decreases. When moving, the bones of the joint rub against each other and cause pain.Osteoarthritis usually affects people over 50 years of age.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It is symmetrical, meaning that it usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes the lining that lubricates the joint to swell, which causes pain and stiffness in the joint.

Because RA is an autoimmune disease the immune system attacks its own tissues.

Posttraumatic Arthritis

Posttraumatic arthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that develops after an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation of the knee. Meniscal tears and ligament injuries can cause instability and additional wear on the knee joint, which over time can result in arthritis.

Causes

While the exact cause of arthritis is unknown, some common factors are:

  • Aging
  • Loss of cartilage in joints
  • Bone spurs
  • Inflammation
  • Genetic predisposition

Symptoms

A knee joint affected by arthritis is usually painful and inflamed and the pain develops over time, although sudden onset is also possible. Other symptoms include:

  • The joint may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to bend and straighten the knee.
  • Pain and swelling may be worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting.
  • Vigorous activity may cause pain to flare up.
  • Loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue can interfere with the smooth motion of joints. The knee may “lock” or “stick” during movement. It may creak, click, snap or make a grinding noise (crepitus).
  • Pain may cause a feeling of weakness or buckling in the knee.
  • Many people with arthritis note increased joint pain with rainy weather.