Thursday, May 23, 2024

What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Knees

Will I Need Knee Surgery

Rheumatoid arthritis: Symptoms and treatments

Your doctor will recommend other treatments first. Knee replacement surgery is usually a last resort when damage to the knee is severe and irreparable.

Some people get surgery to remove the inflamed joint lining. Your doctor may call that lining the âsynoviumâ and the procedure a âsynovectomy.â The operation, which is performed less frequently than in the past because of better medications, can relieve knee pain for up to 5 years.

Show Sources

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “What are Knee Problems?” “Living with Arthritis,” “Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

National Institutes of Health: “X-Plain Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Rheumatoid Arthritis Resources.”

Arthritis Today: “How is Rheumatoid Diagnosed?”

American College of Rheumatology: “Rheumatoid Arthritis,” “Joint Surgery.”

News release, FDA.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Arthritis In The Legs

Diagnosis of leg arthritis by a doctor may involve the following

  • Detailed medical history: This may involve questions about the symptoms including their onset and severity, any underlying health conditions, any history of injury or surgery and family history of any related health conditions. The doctor may also ask if you are on any medications or supplements.
  • Physical examination: A thorough physical examination will be done to look for
  • Any signs of injuries or trauma
  • Gait
  • Temperature
  • Imaging studies: These are crucial because they help the doctor to see the condition of the involved bones, joint spaces and muscles. Imaging studies such as X-ray, computed tomography scan and magnetic resonance imaging may be done.
  • Blood tests: These may be done especially in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. Blood tests may also help the doctor know about the presence of infections or nutrient deficiencies that may contribute to the disease. Associated health conditions such as high serum uric acid levels and increased blood sugar levels may be identified through blood tests.
  • Synovial fluid examination: This involves withdrawing a small amount of synovial fluid and examining it in the lab. This may reveal the presence of or the presence of gout .
  • Anyone Can Develop It

    In general, the continuous pain in the joints associated with rheumatoid arthritis has to do with wear and tear that occurs with age. This disease isnt just unique to old age, however. It can also develop in children or young adults.

    While its true that most cases appear in older adults, the possibility of suffering could occur much earlier, especially if you have a family history of the disease or any injuries.

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    How Ra Affects The Knees

    In RA, your immune system attacks and damages the joint cell lining and capsular tissue that surrounds the joint. Its the same with RA in your knees:

  • Immune cells target the synovial membrane that lines the knee joint. This membrane protects the cartilage, ligaments, and other tissues of the knee joint. It also makes synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint to allow for smooth movement.
  • The membrane swells. This causes pain from the inflammation of the tissue. Knee movement is also limited as the swollen membrane takes up more space in the knee area.
  • Over time, the swelling can damage the cartilage and ligaments of the knee joints. These help your knee move and keep bones from grinding on each other.

    As they become damaged, cartilage wears away and bones start to push and grind against each other. This results in pain and bone damage.

    Damage from RA also raises the risk of breaking or wearing down bones more easily. This makes it difficult or impossible to walk or stand without pain or weakness.

    A hallmark symptom of RA is tenderness, pain, or discomfort that gets worse when you stand, walk, or exercise. This is known as a flare-up. It can range from a mild, throbbing pain to an intense, sharp pain.

    More common symptoms of RA in your knees include:

    Here are a few of the methods your doctor will use to diagnose RA in your knees:

    When To See A Doctor

    Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand

    If you have early signs of rheumatoid arthritis, see their healthcare professional as soon as possible. A doctor can diagnose the condition and recommend treatments. If necessary your primary care doctor can refer you to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis, called a rheumatologist.

    Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage RA and slow its progression, which may reduce or delay some of the complications. The condition will need to be managed for the rest of your life,

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    Types Of Arthritis That Affect The Knee

    Osteoarthritis is characterized by cartilage degeneration and bony protrusions called osteophytes . In the knee, the most common sites of osteoarthritis include the tibia , femur , and patella .

    The most common type of arthritis affecting the knee is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when a joints articular cartilage breaks down. In the knee, articular cartilage covers the top of the tibia , bottom of the femur , and back of the patella .

    Not everyone with knee osteoarthritis will get knee pain. Pain may occur if the loss of healthy cartilage:

    • Causes the bones of the joint to rub against one another.
    • Compromises the joints biomechanics in some other way.

    See Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms

    Post-traumatic knee arthritisPost-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. It develops after a meniscus tear, ligament injury, or other trauma. The injury may heal but wear-and-tear on the articular cartilage can accelerate. Post-traumatic arthritis may not become symptomatic until years after the injury.

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that targets the synovial membrane surrounding many joints of the body. Some of the most common areas affected include the wrists, knees, and ankles.

    Knee pain can be caused by an autoimmune disease called rheumatoid arthritis . RA causes joint inflammation that can make the knee feel swollen, stiff, warm, and painful. Over time, untreated RA can cause permanent knee joint damage.

    See What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis ?

    Difficulty With Daily Tasks

    The combination of joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue can make it difficult to carry on daily activities, and the loss of function can be extremely frustrating. Especially when the hands are affected, its hard to hold a toothbrush, do up buttons or a zipper, open a water bottle, type on a keyboard, says Dr. Bykerk. It can even be difficult to hold a grocery bag or a child. Not being able to function normally and deal with daily life understandably sends many people to the doctor to find out whats wrong.

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    Depression And Mood Changes

    According to the Mayo Clinic, RA and depression commonly occur together. Doctors dont know whether depression and anxiety in people with RA are a result of the physical symptoms, or if depression is itself a symptom caused by the chronic, systemic inflammation of the disease. But doctors do know that if the depression isnt addressed and treated, the treatment for the arthritis can be less effective.

    If you suspect your symptoms could be rheumatoid arthritis, you should get to a doctor promptly. Your primary care doctor is usually a good place to start. If they suspect RA or a related disease, they may refer you to a rheumatologist for further testing. A rheumatologist is a specialist who treats musculoskeletal and certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.

    Points To Remember About Rheumatoid Arthritis

    5 Warning Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that mostly causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in joints.
    • RA may cause you to feel unusually tired, to have occasional fevers, and to have a loss of appetite.
    • Treatments can include medications, ongoing care from a doctor, and surgery.
    • The goals of treatment are to help relieve pain and swelling, prevent, slow, or stop joint and organ damage, and help you take part in daily activities.
    • You can do many things to help you cope with RA, including finding a balance between rest and exercise, keeping a healthy weight, taking care of your joints, talking with your doctors, family, and friends, and managing your stress.

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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.

    Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Knee

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in several joints of the body, including the knee. It causes inflammation of the synovial membrane, the capsule surrounding the knee joint. Inflammatory cells release substances that break down knee cartilage over time. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of any age.

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    Is The Pain Continuous

    Gout, OA, post-traumatic, reactive, and infectious arthritis can cause continual discomfort during the acute phase of the flare or attack. However, symptoms may be worse on some days than others.

    Other forms of arthritis may have symptoms alternating between flare-ups and periods of remission where symptoms improve, such as:

    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • arthritis due to lupus

    How Is Knee Arthritis Diagnosed

    Arthritis: 7 most common types of arthritis

    Your doctor may use some of the following diagnostic tests and procedures to determine if you have knee arthritis:

    • Medical history and physical examination
    • Blood tests for genetic markers or RA antibodies
    • X-rays to determine cartilage loss in the knee
    • Joint aspiration: drawing out and testing the synovial fluid inside the knee joint

    Cartilage cannot be seen on X-ray, but narrowing of the joint space between the bones indicates lost cartilage. X-rays show bone spurs and cysts, which can be caused by osteoarthritis. Other tests such as MRI or CT scans are rarely needed for diagnosis.

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    Risk Factors For Knee Arthritis

    • Age. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative, wear and tear condition. The older you are, the more likely you are to have worn-down knee joint cartilage.
    • Heredity. Slight joint defects or double-jointedness and genetic defects may contribute to osteoarthritis in the knee.
    • Excess weight. Being overweight or obese puts additional stress on the knees over time.
    • Injury. Severe injury or repeated injury to the knee can lead to osteoarthritis years later.
    • Overuse. Jobs and sports that require physically repetitive motions that place stress on the knee can increase risk for developing osteoarthritis.
    • Gender. Postmenopausal women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men.
    • Autoimmune triggers. While the cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown, triggers of autoimmune diseases are still an area of active investigation.
    • Developmental abnormalities. Deformities such as knock knee and bowleg place higher than normal stress on certain parts of the knee joint and can wear away cartilage in those areas.
    • Other health conditions. People with diabetes, high cholesterol, hemochromatosis and vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have osteoarthritis.

    Why Are Rest And Exercise Important For Ra

    You need to be active, but you also have to pace yourself. During flare-ups, when inflammation gets worse, itâs best to rest your joints. Using a cane or joint splints can help.

    When the inflammation eases, itâs a good idea to exercise. Itâll keep your joints flexible and strengthen the muscles that surround them. Low-impact activities, like brisk walking or swimming, and gentle stretching can help. You may want to work with a physical therapist at first.

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    Joint Pain & Tenderness

    Typically, joint pain is felt during times when the disease is active and the inflammation is irritating the joint, ultimately causing the pain .

    Conversely, pain can also be felt when the disease isnt active because of past damage that has been done to the joints in the body. This is similar to pain from old sports injuries in the elbows, knees, and other joints.

    In addition to outright pain, RA patients may also notice that their joints feel tender to the touch. This occurs when the inflammation in the joint tissue has affected the nerves within the joint capsule. In this case, any pressure placed on the jointseven slight compression during sleepcan elicit immediate pain.

    Pain and tenderness may be felt if arthritic disease has settled into the bones in the cervical spine the vertebrae in the neck area of the spinal cord, or more specifically in the atlanto-axial joint .

    It is the pain associated with RA that sends many patients in search of effective treatment options. Fortunately, there are quite a fewmany of which include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs providing RA patients some much-needed pain relief.

    What Osteoarthritis Pain Feels Like

    Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms

    Pain is pain, right? It just plain hurts. But for your doctor to figure out whether your joint pain stems from osteoarthritis, which develops as cartilage wears away, youll need to be specific about when the pain occurs, how bad it is, and the ways itâs affecting you.

    Here are some common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis that may help you identify and better describe your pain to your doctor:

    • Pain that aches deep into the joint
    • Pain that feels better with rest
    • Pain that isnât noticeable in the morning but gets worse throughout the day
    • Pain that radiates into your buttocks, thighs, or groin
    • Joint pain that affects your posture and gait and may cause limping
    • Pain that occurs after using the joint
    • Swelling in the joint

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    The Pain Gets Worse Over Time

    Unlike immediate knee soreness you might get if you injure the joint, arthritis pain typically comes on gradually, says Dr. Colvin. At first, you might only feel it first thing in the morning, or after you get up from sitting at your desk for a few hours. Over time, the ache may become more frequent. You might notice it when youre climbing stairs or if you kneel for too long. Some people even find the pain wakes them up at night, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

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    Talk With Others Who Understand

    On myRAteam, youll meet other people living with rheumatoid arthritis. More than 142,000 myRAteam members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with RA.

    Have you been diagnosed with RA of the knee? Have you found effective ways to treat this condition? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

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    Symptoms Affecting The Joints

    The main symptom of RA is problems with the joints. This can be any joint but the most commonly affected at first are the feet and hands. It is characteristic of this condition to affect both joints simultaneously and symmetrically.


    The type of pain in the joints is typically an aching and throbbing pain. It is usually worse in the morning or if youve been inactive for a period.


    Stiffness of the affected joints is common. For example, the hands might not be able to function fully and forming a fist might be difficult or impossible.

    As with joint pain, stiffness caused by RA is usually worse after being inactive or in the morning.

    It is common to have this stiffness with osteoarthritis too, but this will wear off in half an hour. With RA, it takes a longer time to wear off.

    Redness, swelling and warmth

    The joint lining becomes inflamed when it is affected by RA. This can cause swelling and make the joint become tender and hot to the touch.

    Some people will develop rheumatoid nodules, which are firm swellings that develop underneath the skin.

    Other symptoms

    In addition to joint symptoms, sufferers of RA often have other symptoms, which include:

    • Lethargy and fatigue.
    • Inflammation in other parts of the body like dry eyes or chest pain.

    Why Do Joints Make Popping And Cracking Noises

    Rheumatoid arthritis

    Joints can make different noisesâsome are serious and some are not.

    Some people learn how to âpop their knuckles.â By pushing or pulling a joint in a certain way an air bubble can suddenly appear in the joint with a âpop.â Once the bubble is there the joint cannot be popped again until the air has been reabsorbed.

    Some joints crack as the ligaments and tendons that pass over them slide past bumps on the bones. Individuals who âcrack their neckâ make noise in this way.

    Other joints lock up intermittentlyâoften with a loud popâbecause something gets caught in between the joint surfaces. A torn cartilage in the knee or a loose piece of bone or cartilage in the joint can do this. Once a joint is stuck in this way, it may need to be wiggled around to unlock it. This may also cause a pop.

    Finally joints that are arthritic may crack and grind. These noises usually occur each time the joint is moved. This noise is due to the roughness of the joint surface due to loss of the smooth cartilage.

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    How Is Ra Treated

    RA can be effectively treated and managed with medication and self-management strategies. Treatment for RA usually includes the use of medications that slow disease and prevent joint deformity, called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs biological response modifiers are medications that are an effective second-line treatment. In addition to medications, people can manage their RA with self-management strategies proven to reduce pain and disability, allowing them to pursue the activities important to them. People with RA can relieve pain and improve joint function by learning to use five simple and effective arthritis management strategies.

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