What Is Arthritis
Painful joint swelling is called arthritis. Osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear of the joints over many years. Arthritis maye develop in any joint, including the fingers, hips and knees. Usually, patients with arthritis feel pain in their joints even after moderate movements. The cartilage breaks down over time, leaving the bones without cushions. This causes the bones to rub against each other resulting in painful swelling. Arthritis is a very painful condition that does not have a cure. However, there are lots of treatment options available to curb the complications of arthritis.
How Is Oa Treated
There is no cure for OA, so doctors usually treat OA symptoms with a combination of therapies, which may include the following:
- Increasing physical activity
- Medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription drugs
- Supportive devices such as crutches or canes
In addition to these treatments, people can gain confidence in managing their OA with self-management strategies. These strategies help reduce pain and disability so people with osteoarthritis can pursue the activities that are important to them. These five simple and effective arthritis management strategies can help.
Physical Activity for Arthritis
Some people are concerned that physical activity will make their arthritis worse, but joint-friendly physical activity can actually improve arthritis pain, function, and quality of life.
Knee Pain And Arthritis
Knee pain is a very common reason for a visit to a primary care doctor, and that is not surprising: the knee is the largest joint in the body and supports almost the entire weight of the body, both when upright and when bending. If just one element of the complicated knee joint is damaged, the knee can become painful.
Knee pain and discomfort can be experienced many different ways: a dull ache, a sharp, stabbing pain, possibly accompanied by stiffness, warmth and swelling of the knee. Some people also experience weakness or locking of the knee joint, which can be a strange and discomfiting sensation and inhibit ones ability to function.
Because the knee is such a complex and essential joint, it is important to pay attention to any type of knee pain and obtain an accurate diagnosis for the cause of the pain. Many people mistakenly consider knee pain just a normal part of aging, but a healthcare professional can often identify the cause and prevent progression of the symptoms.
Arthritic knee pain can present itself in many different ways. The specific symptoms will depend on a number of factors, including the degree and nature of joint degeneration, the patients condition and the patients individual perception of pain.
Certain things make the knee pain worse
Certain things make the knee pain better
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How Is Arthritis Of The Knee Treated
Healthcare providers can’t cure knee arthritis. But they have some tips that might reduce the severity of your symptoms and possibly stop the arthritis from getting worse, including:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise using low-impact activities instead of high-impact activities . Aim for about 150 minutes of exercise per week.
- Wear shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes.
- Apply heat or ice to the area.
- Wear a knee sleeve or brace.
- Physical therapy exercises that help with flexibility, strength and motion.
- Use a cane.
Most people have stage 4 arthritis when they get surgery.
Will I Always Need Medical Treatment For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
You might always need pain medication to ease your symptoms. Many people find exercise and physical therapy helps their symptoms. People also benefit from self-management programs that provide information about living with osteoarthritis of the knee. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can use exercise and other self-care to manage your symptoms.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis
The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
- joint pain and stiffness
- grating sensations when moving a joint
- less joint flexibility than before
You may only notice symptoms in your joints after doing an activity such as walking, climbing stairs or opening a jar. Some people have mild symptoms, while others may experience more severe, ongoing symptoms.
How Can I Prevent Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
While you cant always prevent osteoarthritis of the knee, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk youll develop it:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you jog or run, do so on grass or soft surfaces.
- Vary your fitness routine with low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling.
- Add light strength training to your fitness routine.
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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
Other Causes Of Knee Pain
Sprain or strain to the knee
Injuries to the muscles and ligaments in the knee can lead to pain. Strains and sprains are often due to twisting your knee or a blow to the knee. Falling can lead to knee injuries like this. The symptoms of a sprain or strain include pain, swelling, and difficulty in walking.
The tendons in your knee can get inflamed and painful. This is typically a result of over-use injuries. Activities like cycling, running, and jumping can be the cause of tendonitis. The symptoms include pain, particularly when you are using the knee in a way that aggravates inflamed tendons.
The cartilage in your knee protects the ends of the bones and provides stability to the joint. If you have a knee injury, you might do damage to the cartilage and cause additional pain and swelling in the area.
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When Knee Pain May Mean Arthritis
Learn about the various causes of knee pain, including different kinds of arthritis.
If you are experiencing pain, swelling and stiffness in the knees, you may have one of the following types of arthritis or related conditions.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. Without the protective layer, the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement in the joint. The knee is one of the joints most commonly affected by OA. In knee OA, you may feel a grating sensation when using the joint or a popping or crackling noise.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attacks the joints. The result can be joint damage, pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. RA commonly affects joints on both sides of the body. If one knee is affected, the other knee is likely affected as well.
Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe types of arthritis that affect children age 16 years old or younger. There are several types of juvenile arthritis that cause knee pain and swelling.
Reactive arthritis is a chronic form of arthritis that often occurs following an infection of the genital, urinary or gastrointestinal system. Large joints are often affected, especially the shoulders, hips and knees.
How Do I Know If My Knee Pain Is Arthritis
If you have knee pain that doesn’t go away with time, you might have arthritis. This condition occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in a joint starts to wear away. The result is bone grinding against bone, which is very painful. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of knee pain, especially in people over 50 years old.
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What Other Symptoms Are Linked With Knee Joint Pain
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee are generally limited to the joint itself, whereas inflammatory arthritis causes a wider array of issues. Unlike OA, inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease, which means it affects the whole body, says CreakyJoints Medical Advisor Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In fact, it would be less common for someone with a form of inflammatory arthritis to experience pain in just one knee. Thats because symptoms are usually symmetrical whats more, inflammatory arthritis symptoms usually dont start in the knee.
For example, rheumatoid arthritis generally strikes the small joints in the fingers and toes first, while someone with ankylosing spondylitis is more likely to complain of low back and buttock pain, with knee arthritis pain developing later.
Depending on the type of inflammatory arthritis you have, you may experience other symptoms beyond knee joint pain. People with psoriatic arthritis exhibit the telltale scaly rash and plaques of psoriasis eye inflammation can be a problem for those with psoriatic arthritis as well as ankylosing spondylitis, and people with rheumatoid arthritis may experience weight loss and fevers.
Where Can Arthritis Occur In The Knee
Cartilage loss can occur between the thighbone and the shinbone in the medial portion , lateral portion and under the kneecap.
- Thinning of the cartilage under the kneecap is called patellofemoral arthritis .
- Some patients have cartilage loss in one, two or all of these areas. When all three areas are affected, this is called tricompartmental arthritis.
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What Does Arthritis In The Knee Feel Like
If you battle morning stiffness in your knee for longer than an hour, its an indicator that you could have inflammatory arthritis instead of osteoarthritis in your knee.
The pain of inflammatory arthritis is worse in the morning because its triggered by immobility, Dr. Domingues says. Motion alleviates the knee pain, so youll feel better as the day goes on.
The opposite is true for people with OA in their knees: They can experience a brief period of morning stiffness, but their knee pain is at its worst later in the day because long periods of activity exacerbate OA symptoms.
Even the type of knee pain is different. The pain of inflammatory arthritis comes from stiffness, whereas people with osteoarthritis describe sharp pains, Domingues explains. They say its almost like theres a foreign body in their knee, which is the sensation of bone rubbing on bone.
How Can I Treat Knee Arthritis
Whilst there is no definitive cure for arthritis pain in knees, there is a lot that can be done to help reduce pain and improve function such as exercises, injections, knee braces and physical therapy. As we continue through the arthritis pain in knee section, you can find out lots more in the following articles:
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Do I Have Arthritis In My Knee
Dr. Ekaterina Urch, orthopedic surgeon and knee specialist, covers the symptoms, causes, and best treatment options for knee arthritis.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is the result of inflammation in one or more of your joints. This inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in various joints within the body and can even lead people to replacing their joints because the arthritis has interfered with their every-day activity level. This can be particularly true with arthritis felt in the knee, one of the more common areas where arthritis can occur. Depending on how bad the pain is, it can interfere with the activities people enjoy and can keep them from pursuing an active life.
What are the different types of arthritis?
Not all types of arthritis are created equal. In fact, there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis. However, the two more common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, which is known as a degenerative wear-and-tear type of arthritis, is commonly found in the knee. It is rare for osteoarthritis to be found in younger people. It is more commonly found in people 50 years of age and older.
Why is osteoarthritis causing you so much pain?
Symptoms of knee arthritis:
Other symptoms of knee arthritis:
Nonsurgical treatment for knee arthritis:
Other nonsurgical options to help ease arthritis pain:
Reducing The Strain On Your Knees
Apart from keeping an eye on your weight, there are a number of other ways you can reduce the strain on your knees.
- Pace your activities dont tackle all your physical jobs at once. Break the harder jobs up into chunks and do something gentler in between. Keep using your knee even if its slightly uncomfortable, but rest it before it becomes too painful.
- Wear shoes with thick soles and enough room for your toes. Wearing the right shoes can reduce the shock through your knees as you walk and prevent any changes to your feet.
- If you need extra support for your feet or knees when you walk, speak to your physiotherapist, occupational therapist or doctor about getting insoles made for your shoes.
- Use a walking stick if needed to reduce the weight and stress on a painful knee. An occupational therapist can advise on the correct length and the best way to use the stick.
- Use a handrail for support when going up or down stairs. Go upstairs one at a time with your good leg first.
- Think about making changes to your home, car or workplace to reduce unnecessary strain. An occupational therapist can advise you on special equipment that will make things you do every day easier.
Using a heat pack or something similar on a painful knee might help to relieve the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. An ice pack can also help but be careful not to put ice or heat packs or hot water bottles directly on your skin wrap them with a tea towel or cover.
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Inflammatory Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
Arthritis actually describes over 100 different conditions that affect joints and the surrounding tissue. They fall into two main categories: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis .
Inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease in which the mechanisms that normally protect your body attack your own joints and tissues instead. The most well-known example is rheumatoid arthritis , which tends to be symmetrical, meaning you’ll have problems in the same joints on both sides of your body, like both wrists or both knees.
The second type of arthritis and the most common form is osteoarthritis. A degenerative disorder, it’s caused by trauma or age-related wear and tear on your joints over time. OA is most likely to affect weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hip, lower spine or big toe, but it can also cause pain and stiffness in your thumb or finger joints.
Here are some early arthritis symptoms that should prompt you to see a medical provider.
1. Pain in a joint. Pain or aching in a joint that gradually becomes worse over time is a classic symptom of arthritis, says Lisa Cannada, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. The pain may be triggered by activity, or it may set in after activity or at the end of a long day.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Oa
- Joint injury or overuseInjury or overuse, such as knee bending and repetitive stress on a joint, can damage a joint and increase the risk of OA in that joint.
- AgeThe risk of developing OA increases with age.
- GenderWomen are more likely to develop OA than men, especially after age 50.
- ObesityExtra weight puts more stress on joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. This stress increases the risk of OA in that joint. Obesity may also have metabolic effects that increase the risk of OA.
- GeneticsPeople who have family members with OA are more likely to develop OA. People who have hand OA are more likely to develop knee OA.
- Race Some Asian populations have lower risk for OA.
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What Are Treatments For Knee Arthritis
Though neither category of arthritis is curable, both kinds of knee arthritis can be managed well, particularly when caught early. Thats especially true for those with inflammatory arthritis.
We know a lot more about inflammatory arthritis than we do about OA, Dr. Domingues says. And we have drugs that target the root cause of inflammatory arthritis disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs which decrease inflammation, help preserve the joint, and ease pain. Biologics, a more targeted type of DMARD, may be recommended for those who dont get sufficient relief of knee pain and other symptoms from traditional DMARDs.
As for what to take for knee osteoarthritis, doctors often first recommend over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , which are also sometimes used to alleviate the pain of inflammatory arthritis.
If those dont help your knee OA, steroid injections may be a good next step for managing knee joint pain, or your doctor might suggest hyaluronan injections, which provide some of the cushioning lost by cartilage breakdown in your knee joint.
But because OA is a degenerative disease, which means it will likely get worse over time, these options mostly buy you time before you may ultimately need a knee replacement, which is the definitive treatment for moderate-to-severe knee OA, Dr. Domingues says.