Knee pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including acute injuries, overuse injuries, and arthritis.
When you have a knee injury, it can make it difficult to perform many everyday tasks, such as walking or climbing stairs. For many people, it is one of the leading causes of lost work time and disability.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of arthritis, its symptoms, causes, types, and treatments.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis occurs when your joints get inflamed. The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Knee joints are particularly vulnerable to the disease, but any joint in the body may be affected. Knee arthritis is an inflammation of the knee joint caused by wear and tear on the cartilage, which no longer cushions the surfaces of the joint.
In the case of damaged cartilage, joint surfaces may become rough and bones may rub against each other. The symptoms of this condition include persistent pain, clicking, catching, and limited motion.
Common types of arthritis
There are many types of arthritis, but these are the major types that affect the knees: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis.
One of the most common forms of arthritis is osteoarthritis, caused by normal wear and tear. This is a slowly progressive disease wherein cartilage wears down over time. People over 50 years of age are most likely to suffer from this degenerative, wear-and-tear arthritis, although younger people can also suffer from it.
As the cartilage wears away in the knee joint, osteoarthritis develops. It becomes rough and brittle, and the space between the bones shrinks. In this scenario, bone can rub against bone, resulting in painful bone spurs.
Typically, osteoarthritis develops slowly, and the pain worsens.
Rheumatoid arthritis is also known as inflammatory arthritis. It is an auto-immune disease that affects the immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks multiple joints throughout the body, including the knee. The disease is symmetrical, which means it affects both sides of the body at the same time.
The main reason for the immune system’s attack is unknown, but scientists have discovered genetic markers that increase your risk.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease, and if left untreated, can lead to joint deformity and disability.
It is a type of arthritis that develops because of an injury to a joint. Damage to the cartilage and bones of the joint causes an inflammatory, painful, and stiff state. Typically, post-traumatic arthritis develops long after an initial injury, such as a fracture, ligament tear, or dislocation, which can affect the affected joint(s).
A broken bone, for example, may damage the joint surface years after it has been broken. It is possible to develop arthritis in the knee joint because of meniscal tears and ligament injuries.
Symptoms of arthritis
The knee joint may be inflamed and painful when affected by arthritis. There is usually a gradual onset of pain, but it can also strike suddenly. Other symptoms include:
- Knees may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to bend and straighten them.
- After sitting or resting, swelling and pain may be more intense in the morning.
- It is possible for the pain to flare up because of vigorous activity.
- Loose cartilage fragments and other tissue can impede the movement of joints. It is possible for the knee to “lock” or “stick” during movement. You may hear creaking, clicking, snapping, or grinding noises (crepitus).
- The knee may feel weak or buckle due to pain.
- Changes in the weather often worsened joint pain for people with arthritis.
Treatments for arthritis
Using non-surgical methods should be the first step in relieving pain and stiffness. A number of treatments can be used to alleviate pain, including physical therapy, massage devices, oral pain medications, and corticosteroid injections.
Those with advanced osteoarthritis of the knee may require surgery to replace a knee joint or the patellofemoral joint. When knee inflammation occurs, medical treatment is usually preferred over surgical treatment.
Arthritis cannot be cured. There are, however, some treatments that can help you manage the condition. These treatments include:
- If your knee joint is inflamed, you may need to rest and limit your activities. Avoid sports that require repeated impact on the knee, such as running, jumping, and any activity that requires repeated impact on the knee.
- Weight loss is also beneficial for knee joints.
- In order to maintain joint function without overstressing it, low-impact activities may be prescribed.
- Exercises that ease the knee, such as swimming, water aerobics, walking on level ground, and biking, may be prescribed as part of physical therapy. This will strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion.
- People with arthritis might benefit from knee massagers and supportive devices (cane, brace orthotics) to reduce their pain and anxiety. Clinical studies have shown that massage therapy is effective in treating arthritis.
- Pain can be relieved by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Inflammation can be reduced by medications such as celecoxib (Celebrex), which belongs to the Cox-2 inhibitor family.
- Knee injections are necessary at times. Although these medications temporarily relieve symptoms they are not recommended for long-term use.
Arthritis is unpredictable in terms of timing and progression. Even with nonsurgical treatment plans, pain can increase and participation in daily activities can decrease. It may be necessary to perform surgery if this is the case.
- Knee replacement surgery can be total or partial. An artificial joint replaces the damaged and worn-out surfaces on the ends of the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (knee cap) with a smooth joint surface that will be attached to the bones. Partial knee replacements include patellofemoral joint replacements.
- An arthroscopy of the knee is performed to aspirate the joint or remove loose bodies or spurs.
- A synovectomy is when parts of the synovium, the lining of the joint capsule, are removed