What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often in older people and affects the tissue covering the ends of the bones in the joint(cartilage). In a person with osteoarthritis of the knee, the cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement in the affected knee.
Who is at Risk of Osteoarthritis of the Knee?
Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to being overweight, excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, previous fracture, growth abnormalities, joint diseases, injury or deformity. Some people have congenital abnormalities of the joints that cause early degeneration and subsequently cause osteoarthritis.
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Doctors diagnose osteoarthritis of the knee with a medical history, a physical examination and X-rays of the affected knee. During the physical examination, your doctor will examine the affected knee for swelling, pain, tenderness, and assess the joint’s range of motion. An X-ray of the knee may show a loss of the joint space and bone spur formation. There is no blood test for osteoarthritis.
Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis
There is no known cure for osteoarthritis. However, there are several treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help you ease your pain and symptoms. The objective of the treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint movement, and prevent further damage to the joint. Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee can involve the following:
- Medications may include different classes such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, artificial joint fluid injections, and other drugs.
- Lifestyle modifications such as
- A moderate exercise program
- Use of heat or cold treatments
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Getting adequate rest
- Losing weight
- Protecting your joints with the use of assistive devices such as splints or braces to support the weakened joints
- Physical Therapy
- Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength.