Frequently Asked Questions About Arthritis Of The Knee
Q: What is arthritis and what causes it?
A: Arthritis is an umbrella term for a number of disease entities in which the joints become inflamed and the cartilage that lines the bones deteriorates. Eventually, bone on bone wear occurs. As the disease progresses, patients often experience pain, stiffness, and disability. The vast majority of people diagnosed have osteoarthritis and in most cases the cause of their condition cannot be identified. One or more joints may be affected. is a disease that affects the entire system and multiple joints. This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body perceives the cartilage to be a foreign substance and attacks it.
Q: If I have arthritis in one knee, will I get it in the other?
A: If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, having an affected knee does not mean that you will develop arthritis in the opposite knee. About 40 percent of patients who have osteoarthritis in one knee will have the same condition in the other knee. In contrast, patients with rheumatoid arthritis often develop problems in both knees.
Q: Why is my knee becoming more bowlegged or knock-kneed?
A: The increasing deformity of becoming more bowlegged or knock-kneed represents the greater wearing out of cartilage and bone from one side of the knee as compared to the other.
Q: What is that cracking sound I hear in my knee?
Q: What kinds of things besides surgery can I do to help?
Q: Are there any exercises that will help my knee arthritis?
Why The Procedure Is Performed
The most common reason to have a knee joint replaced is to relieve severe arthritis pain. Your doctor may recommend knee joint replacement if:
- You are having pain from knee arthritis that keeps you from sleeping or doing normal activities.
- You cannot walk and take care of yourself.
- Your knee pain has not improved with other treatment.
- You understand what surgery and recovery will be like.
Most of the time, knee joint replacement is done in people age 60 and older. Younger people who have a knee joint replaced may put extra stress on the artificial knee and cause it to wear out early and not last as long.
What Other Treatments Are Available
There are a number of treatments for arthritis in the knee that don’t involve surgery:
- Medicine. If your pain is mild, over-the-counter pain medicines may help. These include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen . But if these don’t get rid of your pain, you may need a stronger prescription medicine. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Pain-relieving gels or creams, such as capsaicin.
- Steroid shots. Steroid shots may provide rapid pain relief. But for some people, this benefit only lasts a few weeks.
- Ice or heat. Heat may help you loosen up your joints before an activity. Ice is a good pain reliever after activity or exercise.
- Exercise. Exercise helps because it makes your muscles stronger, which lowers the stress on your knees. But make sure to talk to your doctor about what kind of activity is best for you.
- Losing weight, if you’re overweight. Losing weight helps take some of the stress off of your joints.
- Physiotherapy. This includes specific exercises that can help you stretch and strengthen your muscles and reduce pain and stiffness.
- Walking aids. There are many devices you can use to take some of the stress off of your knee. These include crutches, walkers, braces, and tape. You may also be able to reduce the stress on your knee by wearing the right shoes or by adding insoles to your shoes. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about what would be best for you.
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Understanding Why Some Joint Replacements Fail
We’re also supporting research to improve the outcome of knee replacement surgeries, such as a project aimed at increasing the understanding of why joint replacements sometimes fail by investigating whether there are genetic risk factors that influence surgery outcome. This research has the potential to improve patient experience and increase the life of the joint replacement.
What Is The Knee Joint
Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include the:
- Shinbone .
- Kneecap .
A smooth substance called cartilage covers the ends of each bone. Its a cushion between the bones that keeps them from rubbing together. The synovial membrane, a type of tissue that surrounds the joint, lubricates the cartilage.
Arthritis of the knee causes pain and swelling in the joint
Medical Issues To Consider
Prior to the operation, you will need to discuss a range of issues with your doctor or surgeon, including:
- Thorough assessment of your knee joint, which may include x-rays and other imaging techniques.
- Your medical history. If you are elderly, you will need to undergo tests to make sure you are fit for the operation. These tests may include an electrocardiogram and blood tests.
- Inform your doctor about any drugs you may be regularly taking, particularly drugs that affect the bloods ability to clot such as aspirin or Warfarin.
- Your expectations you need to understand that although the prosthesis is sophisticated, it cant replicate the full function of a healthy knee joint.Possible complications of surgery will also be discussed.
Types Of Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement can be total or partial.
Total knee replacement : Surgery involves the replacement of both sides of the knee joint. It is the most common procedure.
Surgery lasts between 1 and 3 hours. The individual will have less pain and better mobility, but there will be scar tissue, which can make it difficult to move and bend the knees.
Partial knee replacement : Partial replacement replaces only one side of the knee joint. Less bone is removed, so the incision is smaller, but it does not last as long as a total replacement.
PKR is suitable for people with damage to only one part of the knee. Post-operative rehabilitation is more straightforward, there is less blood loss and a lower risk of infection and blood clots.
The hospital stay and recovery period are normally shorter, and there is a higher chance of more natural movement.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee
It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:
- Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
- What type of arthritis do I have?
- Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- What medications should I take?
- Do I need physical therapy?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.
Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.
Talk With A Doctor About Which Procedure Is Right For You
If youre experiencing knee pain, have a discussion with your primary care physician. They can refer you to a physical therapist or an orthopedist who specializes in knee health. The solution isnt always surgery, though for severe cartilage damage, some invasive intervention is likely.
Your age and activity level are two key factors in determining what approach is best for you. The nature and severity of the problem in your knee is another factor.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about whats involved in various procedures and recovery periods. Its also important to find out the costs of a procedure and how much of that expense will be covered by your insurance.
Regardless of which knee cartilage treatment you have, you should be prepared for a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation phase. A study in the
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What Is Arthritis Of The Knee
Arthritis is a disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints. It can affect the largest and strongest joints in your body. Its common in knees. Arthritis of the knee can be a serious, debilitating disease.
Although there is no cure for knee arthritis, there are steps you can take that might ease your symptoms and potentially slow the progression of your disease.
Your Knee Is Always Swollen
Swelling is another sign your knee is not responding to other treatments.
A knee that is consistently swollen despite the use of anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and physical therapy suggests degeneration of the cartilage and/or instability of the knee, which can be confirmed with an X-ray, Lieberman explains. This can make you a candidate for a total knee replacement, he says.
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Extending The Life Of Your Knee Implant
Currently, more than 90% of modern total knee replacements are still functioning well 15 years after the surgery. Following your orthopaedic surgeon’s instructions after surgery and taking care to protect your knee replacement and your general health are important ways you can contribute to the final success of your surgery.
To assist doctors in the surgical management of osteoarthritis of the knee, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has conducted research to provide some useful guidelines. These are recommendations only and may not apply to every case. For more information: Surgical Management of Osteoarthritis of the Knee – Clinical Practice Guideline | American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
What Are The Types Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are around 100 types of arthritis. The most common types that might affect your knees include:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common of the types on this list. Osteoarthritis wears away your cartilage the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis gets worse as time passes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. The cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee . Your bones rub together, and that causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. Your knee arthritis symptoms might not start until years after the trauma.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system causes inflammation when it’s trying to protect you from an infection, injury, toxin or another foreign invader. The inflammatory response is one way your body protects itself. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you have an unhealthy immune system that triggers inflammation in your joints even though theres no foreign invader. The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the synovial membrane, which can also wear away your cartilage.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are many signs and symptoms of arthritis of the knee:
- Creaking, clicking, grinding or snapping noises .
- Difficulty walking.
- Joint pain that changes depending on the weather.
- Joint stiffness.
- Knee joint pain that progresses slowly or pain that happens suddenly.
- Skin redness.
- Your knee locks or sticks when its trying to move.
- Warm skin.
Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of arthritis of the knee. Some treatments might reduce the severity of your symptoms or even stall the progression. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of knee arthritis.
Gradual Increase In Pain
Arthritis pain usually starts slowly, although it can appear suddenly in some cases.
At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after youve been inactive for a while.
Your knees may hurt when you:
- climb stairs
- stand up from a sitting position
- walk on a flat surface
- sit down for a while
Knee pain that wakes you up from sleep can be a symptom of OA.
For people with RA, the symptoms often start in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The joint may be warm and red.
With OA, symptoms may progress rapidly or they may develop over several years, depending on the individual. Symptoms can worsen and then remain stable for a long time, and they can vary day to day.
Factors that may cause worsening of symptoms include:
- cold weather
- excessive activity
With RA, symptoms usually appear over several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a few days. A flare can happen when disease activity increases. Triggers vary and can include changes in medication.
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Diagnosis Of Artificial Joint Infectious Arthritis
Analysis and culture of joint fluid
X-rays and possibly a bone scan or white blood cell scan
Doctors base the diagnosis of an infected artificial joint on symptoms, an examination, and the results of a combination of tests.
Doctors examine the artificial joint to see whether a sinus tract has developed. A sinus tract is an abnormal channel from the joint to the skin that can develop when an infection exists.
to see whether the artificial joint has become loose or new bone has started to form. A bone scan Bone scanning A doctor can often diagnose a musculoskeletal disorder based on the history and the results of a physical examination. Laboratory tests, imaging tests, or other diagnostic procedures are sometimes… read more or a white blood cell scan may also be done.
If other tests have not ruled out infection, doctors collect tissue around the artificial joint during a surgical procedure and send it to a laboratory for culture and analysis.
Learning To Live With Your New Knee
Having a total knee replacement provides significant pain relief for more than 90 percent of people who have the surgery.
It can take some time to get used to the new knee, so its important to understand what is normal during recovery and how having an artificial knee can affect your day-to-day life after surgery.
Your new knee doesnt come with an owners manual, but recognizing potential issues and preparing for them can help maximize your quality of life after surgery.
Its not unusual for your artificial knee to make some popping, clicking, or clunking sounds, particularly when you bend and extend it. This is most often normal, so you shouldnt be alarmed.
Several factors can affect the likelihood of these noises or sensations after surgery, including the
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Knee Replacement Alternatives To Consider
Crunching sounds as you climb stairs, chronic aching and swelling: Knee osteoarthritis is a real pain. If youre suffering with it, you may be considering surgery.
Getting a knee replacement is one approach, but you may not need surgery, at least not right away. And some patients cannot undergo knee replacement surgery for various reasons. Other people with knee pain are too young for a knee replacement the artificial knee is only likely to last 15 or 20 years, after which the person may need revision surgery.
There are several things you can try first, on your own or with a professionals help, that can help with knee pain and even delay the need for replacement.
Arthritis doesnt go away, but there are things you can do to lessen the pain and stay more active.
Reasons For The Procedure
Knee replacement surgery is a treatment for pain and disability in theknee. The most common condition that results in the need for kneereplacement surgery is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage.Damage to the cartilage and bones limits movement and may cause pain.People with severe degenerative joint disease may be unable to donormal activities that involve bending at the knee, such as walking orclimbing stairs, because they are painful. The knee may swell or”give-way” because the joint is not stable.
Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis thatresults from a knee injury, may also lead to degeneration of the kneejoint. In addition, fractures, torn cartilage, and/or torn ligaments maylead to irreversible damage to the knee joint.
If medical treatments are not satisfactory, knee replacement surgery may bean effective treatment. Some medical treatments for degenerative jointdisease may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Cortisone injections into the knee joint
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend a knee replacementsurgery.
When Surgery Is Recommended
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. People who benefit from total knee replacement often have:
- Severe knee pain or stiffness that limits everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. It may be hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and it may be necessary to use a cane or walker
- Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night
- Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
- Knee deformity a bowing in or out of the knee
- Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries
Total knee replacement may be recommended for patients with bowed knee deformity, like that shown in this clinical photo.