Causes and Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis
Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis
- Heavy body weight adds a lot of stress to the joint and predisposed one to osteoarthritis
- Malalignment of the knee can overload certain parts of the knee, resulting in rapid wear and tear of the joint
- Previous trauma such as fractures, meniscus tears or ligament tears to the knee can affect the bony alignment and stability of the knee, resulting in early wear and tear on the joint
- Knee infections can damage the internal structures in the knee, giving rise to premature osteoarthritis.
- Inflammatory conditions of the knee, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, can cause damage to the cartilage and progress to osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis
The following are the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis:
- Pain with an activity which improves when you rest
- Feeling of stiffness in the knee joint, especially in the morning or when trying to start moving
- Swelling in the knee
- Loss of full flexibility in the knee
Treatment aims to reduce pain and to improve function in the knee.
Keep in mind that if your condition requires surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon should always educate you on:
- Risks of the surgery
- How to prepare for a surgery
- What will be required for post-op care
Activities like exercise to produce weight loss are encouraged to relieve pressure on the knee.
This can help to improve flexibility and pain in the knee.
Corticosteroids and gel injections of hyaluronic acid are commonly injected into the joint to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Oral medication and supplements
Painkillers and oral anti-inflammatory medication can help with painful flares of osteoarthritis. Joint supplements can also help reduce the level of pain and inflammation in the joint. These include herbal anti-inflammatories or collagen supplementation.
Joint Preserving Surgery
In early cases of osteoarthritis, we usually try to preserve the joint. These procedures are largely termed ‘joint preserving surgery’, as we try to avoid replacing the knee with an artificial joint. Mild cases may be amenable to cartilage repair. The most commonly done procedure is microfracture, where small holes are drilled into the bone to stimulate healing of the cartilage. This procedure is often augmented with the addition of collagen, hyaluronic acid or bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) over the repair site, to improve the success rates. Where possible, a torn and non-functioning meniscus (shock absorber) is repaired. Underlying bony malalignment may be necessary to protect the knee from further wear and tear.
In some painful joints which aren’t repairable, subchondroplasty may help to reduce the bone pain of osteoarthritis and hence improve the knee function. Subchondroplasty involves injecting a bone substitute into the painful, damaged parts of the bone around an arthritic joint. With improvements in pain, this procedure can help some patients avoid a total knee replacement.
Partial (unicompartmental) knee replacement
A partial knee replacement may help if only one compartment of the knee is worn out. This is a smaller operation than a total knee replacement and has a faster recovery time.
Total knee replacement
In severe osteoarthritis, a total knee replacement will remove all the damaged bone and cartilage in the joint and replace it with an artificial joint that is made out of metal and plastic.
Shoulder | Elbow Orthopaedic Group does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians that are referenced in this article. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her Orthopaedic Surgeon.
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