What is Knee Arthritis?
Knee Arthritis or Knee Osteoarthritis is a condition of wear-and-tear arthritis where the cartilage, the natural cushioning between the joints, starts degenerating and wears off. This causes rubbing of the joints together resulting in knee joint pain and other knee problems like swelling, stiffness, restriction in movement and also formation of bone spurs.
There are different causes for Knee arthritis like:
- Age: cartilage loses its ability to heal as a person ages.
- Weight: Increase in weight puts more pressure on the knee joint.
- Heredity: Inherited abnormalities make a person prone to knee arthritis.
- Gender: Women above the age of 55 are more likely to develop arthritis of the knee than men
- Repetitive Stress Injuries: repetitive knee injuries occur depending on the person’s occupation with activities like kneeling, squatting, lifting weights etc., that stress the knee joint.
- Sports Related: Players playing football, tennis or long-distance running has a high risk of developing arthritis of the knee.
- Illness: like rheumatoid arthritis can cause osteoarthritis of thee knees to develop. People with certain metabolic disorders, like iron overload or excess growth hormone also has a high risk of osteoarthritis
A knee joint with arthritis will be painful and inflamed. The pain develops gradually over time but sudden onset is also possible. The other symptoms are:
- Joint becomes stiff and swollen, making the knee difficult to bend or straighten.
- Pain and swelling worsens in the morning or after sitting or resting.
- Vigorous activity causes pain to flare up.
- Loose cartilage fragments ad other tissue hamper the knees motion causing the knees to lock during movement. It might creak, click, snap or make a grinding noise (crepitus)
- Pain causes buckling or weakness of the knee.
- Cold weather increases knee joint pain in some patients.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctor will do a physical evaluation of the patient, based on the symptoms, to look for:
- Swelling of the knee joint, warmth or reddening
- Knee’s Tenderness
- Range of motion
- Knee’s Instability
- Crepitus (grating sensation) during movement
- Problem in gait
- Signs of injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the knee.
- Pain on placing of weight on knee
The following tests are also performed to confirm diagnosis:
- X-rays to get a clear image of the bones to rule out fractures and also to show the arthritic changes like:
- Joint space: narrowing of the space is a sign
- Joint Alignment: problems in alignment
- Bone Spurs or outgrowths at the joint
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan is done to measure the alignment and study the complex bone deformities.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) helps to diagnose the injuries to cartilage, tendons and ligaments and also swollen areas.