What is Knee Arthritis?
Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to inflammation of the joints. The knee is one of the most common joints to develop arthritis, and when affected, arthritis pain is often one of the most debilitating as well.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, including the most common types, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Although older adults and women are more likely to develop the condition, arthritis can affect anyone, of any age.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Knee osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joint starts to degenerate, whether due to everyday “wear-and-tear,” overuse, or an unresolved prior injury. When the cartilage is worn away, it can no longer protect your bones from scraping against each other as you move. This leads to knee pain, stiffness, and swelling, and can even cause the formation of bone spurs. Also limiting your knee’s range of motion.
Rheumatoid Arthritis in Knees
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Your immune system attacks its own tissues damaging normal tissues (such as cartilage and ligaments) and softening the bone. This type of arthritis will impact the body symmetrically, attacking both knees at the same time.
Knee Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis of the knee can make everyday activities, like walking or climbing stairs, extremely painful. Arthritic pain can cut into your work productivity, keep you from your favorite hobbies, and significantly lower your quality of life. Fortunately, with early treatment, most patients can manage to avoid surgery and return to their normal daily activities.
Common symptoms and signs of knee arthritis include:
- Joint pain that worsens with activity, and eases up with rest.
- Stiffness – especially after long periods of rest.
- The knee is warm to the touch.
- Decreased knee joint mobility.
- Difficulty walking, getting in and out of chairs, climbing staircases, etc.
- Creaking or cracking sounds when moving the knee.
Arthritis After Knee injury
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints of the human body. Three main components make up the knee: the joint between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone), which has both an inner and an outer compartment, and the joint between the femur and the patella (kneecap).
These three main components are enveloped, cushioned, and strapped together by tendons, ligaments, cartilaginous padding, and fluid-filled sacs called bursae. These elements must work together to bear the weight of your body and keep you moving throughout your life. Unfortunately, so many interconnected parts present countless opportunities for injury.
Some of these injuries may contribute to your risk factors for arthritis of the knee, including:
- Ligament tears
- Meniscus tears
- Tendinitis of the knee
- Bone fractures
Knee Arthritis Relief
There is no cure for arthritis, and taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), pain relievers, such as Advil or Tylenol may reduce pain, but only for short periods of time. A proper treatment plan by a pain management specialist can ease the pain and minimize its impact on your life.
To begin your pain management specialist will review your medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. Using such techniques as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan to get a detailed view of the tendons, ligaments, cartilaginous padding, and fluid-filled sacs called bursae. They are clearly visible, unlike an x-ray, to determine the proper diagnosis and the state of the disease. Once diagnosed, the progress of the recommended treatment will be monitored using advanced imaging and innovative nonsurgical techniques.
Treatment usually begins with conservative measures, with the goal of avoiding surgery if at all possible, including knee surgery and total knee replacement. Your treatment plan for pain relief may include:
- Physical therapy for knee arthritis: Physical therapist will provide valuable instruction about using assistive devices and modifying daily activities to reduce pain.
- Genicular Block
- Genicular Rhizotomy
- Corticosteroid injections for knee arthritis
- A2M (Alpha-2-Macroglobulin) Injection
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy for knee arthritis