Osteoarthritis of the knee mainly affects older people, but young people too can get it. In some cases, osteoarthritis is hereditary and also results from infection, injury, or being overweight. We, therefore, want to cover a few details about knee osteoarthritis to answer any questions you might have concerning its symptoms, treatments, and pain management.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes wear and tear of the natural cushioning between cartilages and joints. This degeneration leads to bones rubbing closely against each other, with the cartilage losing its shock-absorbing abilities.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
We have established the following factors as the leading causes of osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Age – As you get older, the cartilage loses its healing abilities.
- Being overweight – Obesity increases pressure on your weight-bearing joints like knees and hips. In addition, the extra body weight increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Heredity – Genetic mutations in your body may expose you to osteoarthritis of the knee. In addition, inherited abnormalities like the shape of bones around the knees may also be a predisposing factor to cause osteoarthritis.
- Gender – Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis than men.
- Injuries to the joint – Some high-impact jobs that require a lot of activity increase the risk of osteoarthritis as do injuries to knees during sport etc.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
- Pain in the affected knee joints during movement reduces when you relax.
- You may experience stiff joints following prolonged inactive periods.
- The knee feels tender when a little pressure is applied to it.
- Your joint may not move through a complete range of motion.
- When you move the knee, there will be a grating sensation with a bit of popping or crackling.
- The soft tissue around the joint could be inflamed, leading to swelling.
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
When diagnosing osteoarthritis, we first conduct a consultation to get a full history of symptoms followed by a physical exam. You should also help your doctor by informing them and explaining your symptoms and what makes the pain intense.
Our doctors use X-rays to show the level of damage to the bone and cartilage and any bone spurs. If the X-ray scan is ineffective, you may need an MRI scan to get a clear picture of your joint tissue damage for better osteoarthritis knee treatment.
Treatment of Osteoarthritis
Our osteoarthritis knee treatment protocols aim at relieving the pain and restoring some level of mobility to your body. These are some of the treatments we offer our patients.
Some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that are effective for osteoarthritis knee treatment include; anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) and other simple pain medications like paracetamol. However, taking OTC drugs for a long period of time could lead to more side effects.
Losing even a few pounds can lessen pain in the knees when experiencing osteoarthritis symptoms.
We recommend physical exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles on your joint. Such activities prevent stiffness while increasing flexibility and mobility.
If physical therapy and pain medications fail, the next options that can help depending on your stage of osteoarthritis are regenerative therapy injections which are minimally invasive – PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), mesenchymal stem cells (Fat, Bone marrow aspirate), Goldic and hyaluronic acid injections. These work by reducing inflammation, improving pain and function, while protecting the remaining cartilage in the joints.
If all treatment options fail, the last resort is knee surgery. However, rarely do people with osteoarthritis need knee surgery. Osteotomy aims at aligning the knee by changing the shape of the bones. We recommend this procedure for patients with damage in one knee area. Other surgical options are partial or total knee replacement procedures.