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What Is Knee Arthritis?

Aug 17, 2007
The most common type of knee arthritis is Osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, caused by wear-and-tear on the knee joints. Osteoarthritis causes a progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint surrounding the knee. When this protective cartilage is worn away by knee arthritis, bare bone is exposed within the joint. It is extremely painful and can become so debilitating that the sufferer can barely stand or walk for any length of time.

What Causes Knee Arthritis?
Arthritis of the knee generally afflicts patients over the age of 50 who are overweight. Genetic predisposition may also be a cause of this chronic condition. Other risk factors that may contribute to developing knee arthritis include:

-Trauma to the knee.
-Meniscus tears or ligament damage.
-Fractures to the bone around the joint.

Symptoms of Knee Arthritis:
Knee arthritis symptoms tend to progress as the condition worsens and may be exacerbated by weather changes and stress to the knee joints. Pain may appear intermittedly, with pain free weeks or months, followed by very painful flare-ups.

Some of the most common symptoms of knee arthritis include:

-Pain with activities.
-Limited range of motion.
-Stiffness of the knee.
-Swelling of the joint.
-Tenderness along the joint.
-A feeling the joint may "give out".
-Deformity of the joint (knock-knees or bow-legs).

Evaluation of a patient with knee arthritis should begin with a physical examination and X-Rays. These can serve as a baseline to evaluate later examinations and determine progression of the condition.

Treating Knee Arthritis?
Treatment for knee arthritis ranges from simple life changes and medications to injections at the site and even surgery to completely replace the knee. Each patient is different and should determine their course of treatment with an orthopedist who specializes in knee arthritis.

Some basic treatments to begin with include:

Weight Loss:
Carrying excess weight can cause serious harm to weakened knee joints by placing undo stress on the knee. Pain can be excruciating for obese patients suffering with knee arthritis.

Activity Modification:
Limiting certain activities may be necessary, and learning new exercise methods may be helpful. Those who find it too painful to exercise, may find aquatic therapy helpful since the buoyancy of the water takes away any stress to the knees and joints while exercising.

Walking Aids:
Using a cane or crutch in the hand opposite the affected knee can help decrease the demand placed on the arthritic joint.

Physical Therapy:
Decreasing the burden on the knee by strengthening the muscles around the knee joint may help decrease both pain and swelling. Proper physical therapy can also help prevent muscle atrophy around the knee, which is an important part of maintaining functional use of the knee.

Occupational Therapy:
Some patients have found short stints of occupational therapy helpful in learning the proper ways to stand, sit, bend, and so forth once atrophy of the muscles surrounding the knee begins to affect range of motion,

Arthritis of the knee can be especially difficult to deal with for many patients since their mobility can be seriously limited once the disease progresses. Beginning treatment early, and learning the proper way to care for a damaged knee are all important in maintaining an active lifestyle despite the disease.
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