knee osteoarthritis

Knee Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments

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Knee Osteoarthritis can make walking painful. Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint are some of the symptoms that can arise when you are in this condition. Getting Synvisc One injection is an excellent way to relieve pain and even address such a condition when it happens.

Your joints go through a series of damages and repairs throughout your lifetime. However, sometimes, the repair process can lead to changes in the structure and shape of the joints. Osteoarthritis happens when these changes occur in one or more joints.

Osteoarthritis results in the thinning of the knee joint’s cartilage and roughening of the joint surfaces. This cases the knee not to move as smoothly as it should. Although age is a significant risk factor, this condition can still affect people of all ages, including the young ones. For some people, osteoarthritis may be hereditary, while for others, it can arise from infection or injury, or sometimes, being overweight.

Causes of knee osteoarthritis

As mentioned earlier, aspects like age, genetics, injury, or infections can lead to knee osteoarthritis. Let’s have a look at how these factors can contribute to the condition.

  • Age: the ability of your cartilage to heal reduces with age
  • Heredity: you have a higher chance of getting knee osteoarthritis if one or more of your family members suffer from it than if there’s no one in your family with the condition. Heredity also includes mutations that might make you more susceptible to the condition
  • Weight: when you are overweight, you increase the pressure on all joints, especially the knees.
  • Repetitive stress injuries: if you do lots of squatting, kneeling, or heavy lifting, you may be at higher risk of developing knee osteoarthritis due to the constant pressure on the joint.
  • Gender: women who are 55+ are more prone to getting osteoarthritis than men of the same age
  • Other illnesses: if you have rheumatoid arthritis, you are likely to have knee osteoarthritis. Other diseases that put you at risk include iron overload, metabolic disorders, excess growth hormone, and so on.

Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is often linked to the following symptoms:

  • Stiffness
  • Crepitus, a popping or clicking of the knee with movement
  • Swelling
  • Weakness in the knee joint
  • Pain that seems to be weather-related
  • Feeling of warmth in the joint
  • Pain that worsens with activity

Note that the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis typically get worse over time. Later stage symptoms may include stiffness that makes it hard to move and visible joint deformities. Again, severe symptoms don’t necessarily happen over time – they can appear suddenly.

Diagnosis of Knee Osteoarthritis

The condition is diagnosed through imaging studies, physical exams, and lab testing. First, your doctor will look at your medical history before assessing the knee by looking at it, touching it and asking you to walk around if you can. He or she will consider where you experience your arthritis too. Some arthritis seems to affect one knee. Others affect both knees.

Your doctor will likely recommend imaging tests – like an X-ray, MRI scan, or CT scan – for further insights. CT scan and MRI scan allows the doctor to identify soft tissue damage around the knee bones. Lastly, your doctor may perform some lab tests to determine other underlying conditions that might be causing the pain. They may use a blood test to identify rheumatoid factor, which is an antibody that’s present in people with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), to rule out RA.

Treatment of knee osteoarthritis

Your doctor will recommend a range of options to help address your swelling, joint pain, and even enhance the quality of life. Treatment option will be based on several aspects specific to you and your health needs, including the level of pain, medical history, and the impact of the condition on your daily life. Often, the treatment may include a combination of therapies and lifestyle changes, as you will notice below.

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers – examples are over-the-counter options like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium. Do not take these medications for over ten days without consulting with your doctor.
  • Injection of hyaluronic acid or corticosteroids into the knee – this is where your doctor injects drugs like Synvisc One into the knee joint. Depending on the medication, you may need one or more injections for the pain to go away.
  • Alternative therapies like a blend of treatment creams with acupuncture, capsaicin, or supplements like SAMe, chondroitin and glucosamine can be effective in addressing knee osteoarthritis.
  • Exercise and weight loss – strengthening the surrounding muscles not only stabilizes the joint but also reduces pain. You can try stretching activities to keep the knee joint flexible and mobile. Exercise is also a great way to lose some weight, which, as you notice from above, is a risk factor for knee osteoarthritis.
  • Surgery may be a last resort if all else fails.  

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