Knee arthritis is often referred to as osteoarthritis. This is caused by gradual wearing out of the cartilage in the joint while rheumatoid arthritis, which also affects the knee, causes swelling in the joint and damages to the cartilage. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis does not only affect the joints in the knee but can also damage supporting structures like the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Osteoarthritis is often caused by too much stress on the joint because of weight, repeated injury and deformity. Knee arthritis is mostly present in middle-aged people and seniors. A young person who is suffering from osteoarthritis may have inherited it or may have experienced excessive irritation from an un-repaired torn ligament or cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is often present in younger individuals than osteoarthritis.
There are several signs and symptoms of knee arthritis like swelling, pain and diminished knee movements. Probably the most common is morning stiffness, which gradually disappears as the knee is being moved. Also, the joints will sometimes lock or give off a clicking sound but these signs may also indicate other knee disorders. In confirming the patient’s condition, the doctor would need to perform a physical examination and have the patient undergo an X-ray test that will show the severity of the loss of joint space.
Blood tests can also be very helpful in diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis and other tests may be required such as analysis of the fluid taken from the knee. Also, arthroscopy can be used to see the damaged cartilage, tendons and ligaments. However, arthroscopy is done when there is a need to repair the knee.
Different treatment options for knee arthritis:
• Medication – Patients can take doctor prescribed medicines like Aspirin, Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
• Exercise – Weight loss can be a very helpful way to reduce the stress on the affected knee. Studies show that a huge number of people suffering from knee arthritis are overweight.
• Physical therapy – A physical therapist can help patients suffering from knee arthritis by performing different exercises that will concentrate on the affected knee. Additionally, using an ultrasound can reduce the pain and swelling of the knee joint.
• Surgery – Surgery is the last resort for treating knee arthritis and there are several factors that are first considered before surgery like the patient’s age, weight, medical history and allergic reaction to medicines. Different tests are conducted before undergoing a surgery and candidates are carefully selected by doctors.
Knee arthritis, just like most other types of arthritis, is a manageable and treatable disease. To know more about knee arthritis and which treatment method is appropriate, it is best to consult a doctor.