Arthritis of the Knee
There are three basic types of arthritis that may affect the knee joint.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of knee arthritis. OA is usually a slowly progressive degenerative disease in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away. It most often affects middle-aged and older people.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory type of arthritis that can destroy the joint cartilage. RA can occur at any age. RA generally affects both knees.
Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after an injury to the knee. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture, ligament injury, or meniscus tear.
A healthy knee
Generally, the pain associated with arthritis develops gradually, although sudden onset is also possible.
The joint may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to bend or straighten the knee.
Pain and swelling are worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity. Pain may also increase after activities such as walking, stair climbing, or kneeling.
The pain may often cause a feeling of weakness in the knee, resulting in a "locking" or "buckling."
Many people report that changes in the weather also affect the degree of pain from arthritis.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination that focuses on your walk, the range of motion in the limb, and joint swelling or tenderness.
X-rays typically show a loss of joint space in the affected knee.
Blood and other special imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be needed to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.
Normal joint space between the femur and tibia.
Decreased joint space due to damaged cartilage and bone spurs.
If you have osteoarthritis of the knee, you can take advantage of a wide range of treatment options. The effectiveness of different treatments varies from person to person. The choice of treatment should be a joint decision between you and your physician.
The purpose of treatment is to reduce pain, increase function and generally reduce your symptoms. Patient satisfaction is a fundamental goal in treating osteoarthritis of the knee
In its early stages, arthritis of the knee is treated with nonsurgical measures. Nonsurgical treatments fall into four major groups: lifestyle modifications; exercise; supportive devices; other methods.