How To Treat Arthritis In The Knees
This article was medically reviewed by Troy A. Miles, MD. Dr. Miles is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Adult Joint Reconstruction in California. He received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2010, followed by a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and fellowship at the University of California, Davis. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the North Pacific Orthopaedic Society.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 58,611 times.
Research suggests that treatment may slow down arthritis and relieve your symptoms, though thereâs no cure for it.XTrustworthy SourceNational Health Service Public healthcare system of the UKGo to source Arthritis occurs when your joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage in your joint wears away, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks your joints. Experts say arthritis in the knee is very common because itâs a weight-bearing joint, but you can get arthritis in any joint.XResearch source Although arthritis may interfere with your life, you may be able to manage your condition.
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Research And New Developments
We have recently funded research into palindromic rheumatism, which has given new insights into what goes on in the body during an attack or flare and the experiences of people with the condition.
This research used the latest ultrasound and MRI techniques to show that the structures around the outside of the joints are major targets in flares of palindromic rheumatism, and can be affected more than the joint itself. This pattern of inflammation isnt usually seen in rheumatoid arthritis and might allow doctors to better identify people with palindromic rheumatism.
Its hoped that a better understanding of the condition will improve ways of managing it and help in developing new treatments.
What Is Knee Osteoarthritis
4.1million people in England have osteoarthritis of the Knee. 18% of the population aged over 45 years old has the condition.
Arthritis Research UK suggest that only 18% of people with arthritis have a care plan to help them manage their symptoms. Sub-optimal management of osteoarthritis permits people to suffer symptoms unnecessarily.
Not everyone who has arthritis will suffer with symptoms, but those that do can experience pain, stiffness, reduced mobility and function. The experience of OA is often unique to each individual.
Some people may just have pain, whereas others may simply have stiff joints. Typically, symptomatic people with knee OA will have a combination of symptoms. Stiff knees often hinder daily functional tasks like walking, getting in and out of the bath or car, and putting on shoes .
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease and a leading source of chronic pain and disability in the United States. Knee osteoarthritis comprises over 80% of the diseases total burden and affects almost 20% of Americans over the age of forty-five.
The knee is the largest and most solid joint in the body. It is the connector between the lower end of the femur , the upper end of the tibia , and the kneecap.
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Applying Heat Vs Cold To An Arthritic Joint
Using heat and/or cold therapies on an arthritic joint is a simple, inexpensive alternative treatment that can help to alleviate pain, stiffness and swelling. Read:Alternative Treatments
Heat can relax muscles and help lubricate joints. Heat therapy may be used to relieve muscle and joint stiffness, help warm up joints before activity, or ease a muscle spasm.
Learn more: When and Why to Apply Cold to an Arthritic Joint
Alternating heat and cold. Some people alternate between heat and cold therapy. For example:
- A patient may be encouraged to use heat therapy to warm up a joint before physical therapy exercise and to use cold therapy after exercise.
- A person can use heat therapy in the morning to loosen up an osteoarthritic knee and use cold therapy to reduce swelling a few hours later. This process can be repeated throughout the day.
Cold therapy is recommended for certain types of arthritis that cause painful inflammation flares, such as gout and pseudogout. People with other types of arthritisincluding but not limited to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitismay benefit from both heat and cold therapy.
There are no universally accepted guidelines for when to use heat or cold therapy on osteoarthritic joints, and recommendations are mixed.16 People with osteoarthritis are advised to experiment with both heat and cold therapy to find what works best for them.7
What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include the following:
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods
Rheumatoid arthritis affects each person differently. In most people, joint symptoms may develop gradually over several years. In other people, rheumatoid arthritis may proceed rapidly. A few people may have rheumatoid arthritis for a limited period of time and then go into remission .
Cartilage normally acts as a shock absorber between the joints. Uncontrolled inflammation causes the destruction and wearing down of the cartilage, which leads to joint deformities. Eventually, the bone itself erodes, potentially leading to fusion of the joint . This process is aided by specific cells and substances of the immune system, which are produced in the joints but also circulate and cause symptoms throughout the body.
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Leading A Sedentary Lifestyle
Regular physical activity is necessary for everyone, including people with RA, and there are numerous health benefits associated with it. Improved muscle strength, as well as better bone and joint health, is essential for people with RA. Rest is also needed, to restore the body from the episodes of intense pain and fatigue that are characteristic of RA. But rest cant become a way of life striking a balance between rest and activity is optimal. A sedentary lifestyle actually does the opposite of what you want, leading to increased pain, fatigue, and weakness.
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Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some of the early signs and symptoms of the most common form of arthritis rheumatoid arthritis are as follows:
- Numbness and Tingling in Hands One of the main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is a continued tingling and numb sensation in wrists and hands caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. The swelling caused by arthritis compresses the nerves and cause this tingling sensation.
- Foot Problems Yet another early symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is recurring foot trouble. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation and pain in the forefoot and heels caused by plantar fasciitis.
- Hard to Heal Injuries If you had a sprained ankle that is taking too much time to heal then it might be an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Joint Stiffness Stiffness in smaller joints of fingers and toes is a typical sign of arthritis.
- Joint Pain Joint stiffness is accompanied usually by tenderness of joints and joint pain during movement. The most common areas affected by joint pain are shoulders, wrists, fingers, knees and ankles.
- Joint Swelling The first sign of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis is swelling of joints that feel warm to the touch.
- Inflammation and pain in joints lead to deformation of the ligaments and tendons, which causes difficulty in straightening the joints, thereby limiting the range of motion.
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What Is An Arthritis Flare
Summit physician assistant Abby Clark, PA-C, explains the term arthritis flare-up and shares what you can do when you experience one.
Arthritis is a common and painful condition that happens when a joints cartilage wears away. Without cartilage to cushion the joint and act as a buffer, the bones can rub together. This causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Its a chronic condition that can make everyday activities difficult. But what does it mean to have an arthritis flare-up?
An arthritis flare-up refers to an acute increase in pain, swelling, and stiffness in an arthritic joint, said Abby Clark, PA-C, one of Summits physician assistants. Its a worsening of the chronic symptoms that people generally have.
During an arthritis flare-up, you have more disability associated with that joint. Your symptoms are worse, and youre less able to do the things you normally would, whether thats climbing stairs or playing tennis.
How Is An Ra Flare Defined
Although there is currently no set definition of what constitutes an RA flare, there is agreement that a flare is associated with a worsening of key RA symptoms and an impact on certain areas of daily functioning. Your doctor may use clinical tools including standard RA laboratory tests, counts of swollen and tender joints, and a global assessment of your condition to determine whether you are experiencing a flare.1
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Knowing How To Soothe The Pain
The reality of an ensuing osteoarthritis flare-up always fills me with anxiety and dread, but it also makes me get everything that provides me pain relief in order to make sure I have them on-hand. Whether this is medication, a stretching plan or specific osteoarthritis exercise, heat pads, or any other item, do not endure a flare up without them!
My choice of pain relievers helps to keep me functioning during my worst flare-ups. You need to be able to identify what provides you the best pain relief and use them. On the other hand, be mindful of not overusing any of these pain relievers and make sure your doctor is aware you use them.
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Take Care Of Your Mental Health
Managing the mental aspect of psoriatic arthritis is an important treatment component as well. People with psoriatic arthritis are at a greater risk of anxiety and depression than the general population, and flare-ups are difficult for many to cope with, Crow says. Whatever you can do to invest in your mental health is likely a wise choice.
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Look For More Symptoms
I have named a few red flags of a flare-up, but there are many others, as well. You may have joint pain in your jaw, elbow, or shoulders. You may experience digestive issues, anxiety, or any number of symptoms. Its important to always be cognizant of your body and take the time to check in. If you can get ahead of a flare before it gets worse, youll be better off in the long run! Be prepared and get a game plan in place for if you run into any of these 10 red flags.
Survival Tips For Managing An Ra Flare
A rheumatoid arthritis flare-up, or flare, can cause joint pain and swelling, fatigue, and anxiety. Thankfully, certain coping strategies can help you manage symptoms and perhaps even shorten the length of the flare, so you can get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.
Below are 15 tips for managing the symptoms of an RA flare-up at home. These suggestions are meant to be used in addition to the treatment plan recommended by your physician.
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Inflammatory Arthritis Versus Osteoarthritis
Knowing the type of arthritis, you have is the key to recognizing and managing a flare up. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage linings of your joints. Since wear and tear takes time, this type occurs mostly in older people. It may be more common in a joint that you injured at some time. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling, but not inflammation.
Inflammatory arthritis may be caused by a disorder of your immune system. Your immune system is your bodys defense system against foreign invaders like germs. If you have an immune system disease called an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks normal body tissues, including your joints. The symptom of the attack is inflammation of tissue in around your joints.
Autoimmune inflammatory arthritis affects many joints all over your body at the same time. This is also called inflammatory polyarthritis. This type of arthritis is a long-term disease that is often diagnosed in young adults. Both rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are common types. Inflammation adds symptoms of redness and a feeling of warmth to affected joints along with pain and swelling.
Over The Counter Medication
The first course of treatment for OA flare-ups is usually OTC pain medication. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used to treat arthritis-related pain. These drugs include:
Creams or ointments containing NSAIDs
If you can’t tolerate NSAIDs, your doctor may recommend acetaminophen . It is crucial to keep in mind the adverse side effects of these medications. Talk to your physician about the best option, their side effects, and how to take them.
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Get To Know Your Disease
The positive news is, living with PsA can become manageable as you figure out how it affects you. If the disease is new to you or early to you, flares are much more uncertain and scary, Dr. Husni says. Once youve had it for a longer period of time, flares become a lot less scary. This is a good time to have psoriatic arthritis because there are a lot of treatments available, more than we ever had before.
How To Treat An Arthritis Flare
Sometimes arthritis flare-ups cannot be prevented. At this point, all you can do is get through it the best you can. There are some things you can do that may help provide you some relief.
Make a Plan
You should try to have a plan in place for when you are experiencing arthritis flare-ups.
If you have unavoidable activities that cannot be canceled when your arthritis acts up, let the key people involved know what is happening that way, accommodations can be made.
Apply Heat or Cold
You can choose to use a hot or cold compact or a hot/cold cream, whichever better fits your needs. If you are using a heating pad or an ice pack, youll want to apply it directly to the painful area for 15-20 minute intervals throughout the day. For the hot/cold cream, youll need to follow the product instructions and be sure not to overuse the topical treatment.
When youre already in pain, its essential to get enough rest. You dont want to put more pressure on your inflamed joints.
You may feel like you are getting behind, but your body needs the time to rest to not prolong the pain. Dont push yourself during a flare.
While you must get plenty of rest during a flare, you have to be careful of being too still.
Its crucial to get in some low-impact movement like going for a short walk or stretching. There are also hand exercises you can do to keep the joints from becoming stiff.
Consult Your Doctor
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Reasons Why You’re Suffering From Arthritis Flare
Have you noticed that your arthritis symptomscome and go even with medication? Flare-ups are periods of increased severityin your symptoms, such as increased stiffness, swelling, and joint pain. Somepeople attribute flare-ups to the natural progression of their disease, like inosteoarthritis. However, flare-ups can happen for other reasons too.
Learn about four possible reasons you may behaving an increase in symptoms.
1. Weather Changes
Researchershave found that people with arthritismay be sensitive to weather changes especially if it’s cold and wet outside.Doctors aren’t sure about the exact reason this happens, but they have a fewtheories. For instance, low temperatures can make the fluid in joint capsulesthicker, so your joints may feel stiffer.
Some researchers believe that changes in theatmospheric pressure may cause muscles, scar tissue, and tendons to expand andcontract, which may cause pain in joints affected by arthritis. Becausearthritis wears away the cartilage that cushions bones and exposes nerves, thechange in atmospheric pressure might also affect these nerves.
Another reason people may get a flare-upduring poor weather is because they are just more sedentary during bad weather.If your health allows, stay active even on cold and rainy day sincephysical activity can prevent pain and joint stiffness. A gym membership cangive you a warm place to work out during the colder months.
2. Wrong Diet
- Fried or highlyprocessed foods
4. Poor Sleep
Always Have Some Freezer Meals On Hand
I have uncontrolled RA and my husband travels a ton for work. Marie Callender and I have become best friends. Having ready-to-cook meals available can make the difference between a horrible day and an okay one. If youre worried about inflammatory foods, Annies has a lot of healthier options. Steve P.
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Diagnosis For Oa Flares
Contact your primary care doctor if you believe you are going through an OA flare that has not improved with time. The doctors will monitor your symptoms and order a range of tests.
A physical test is crucial in determining the extent of OA flares. The doctor will examine the affected joint to evaluate the degree of pain, swelling, and range of motion.
The doctor may also order X-rays to check the stage of osteoarthritis and exclude deterioration of the condition of the joint as the reason behind the worsening symptoms.
When visiting your doctor, ensure you let them know whether your current symptoms are similar to those of previous flares.