What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis affects more than 240 million people around the world, making it the most common joint disease. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body but more commonly occurs in the knees, hips, hands, lower back and neck. In individuals with knee osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears down and becomes rough, and the protective joint space decreases. These changes can lead to the bones of the knee joint rubbing against each other, and also to the development of bone spurs. These changes within the joint can cause inflammation, pain, and decreased joint function.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by genetic factors, natural aging processes, overuse injuries, and other factors that can affect the wear and tear on joint cartilage.
- Pain around the knee joint – pain can be dull or sharp, range in severity from mild to debilitating, may be constant or come and go.
- Pain may come on suddenly or develop over time.
- Pain typically flares up with strenuous activity.
- Pain may worsen over time, becoming more frequent in nature and may occur during rest/sleep.
- Decreased joint range of motion
- Morning joint stiffness or stiffness after prolonged sitting that typically loosens up within 30 minutes
- Decreased muscle strength
- Grinding or popping from the joint
Swelling of the joint
- Locking or a giving way sensation
- Difficulty climbing stairs, walking, and performing normal every day tasks
- Increased joint pain with weather changes
By understanding osteoarthritis is degenerative and progressive in nature, treatment is focused on controlling symptoms, improving joint function, and maintaining quality of life. The typical treatment plan for knee osteoarthritis includes exercise, weight management, and education in addition to other at home therapies such as heat and cold application. Topical or oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be used. Corticosteroid injections into the joint as well as duloxtetine may also provide short-term relief. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to provide symptom relief.
Leading a sedentary life is hazardous to the health of the knee joint as the absence of simulation promotes quicker degeneration of the knee cartilage. Light to moderate low impact physical activity is encouraged for individuals with knee osteoarthritis to help maintain knee joint function. Further, physical activity has numerous other benefits including a decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease, falls, and disability, and also helps to improve mental health.