Knee Arthritis

What is Knee Arthritis?

Knee arthritis is the thinning of the knee joint cartilage resulting from injury, degeneration or inflammation.

There are a few types of knee arthritis, including:

  • Osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that occurs as people age. This is the most common form
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joint
  • Post-traumatic arthritis, caused by direct trauma to the knee that damages the cartilage and changes the joint mechanics
  • Gouty arthritis,  which is inflammation and cartilage damage due to deposition of urate crystal in knee joint.

Causes of osteoarthritis include:

  • Overweight
  • Excessive wear and tear of knee joints due to high-impact activities
  • Ageing
  • Previous knee injury
  • Lower limb muscles imbalance due to weakness or tightness

Symptoms of knee arthritis include:

  • Bumps or  “nodes” around the knee
  • Cracking or grinding (crepitus) when moving the knee
  • Joint instability, seems like the knee “giving way”
  • Mechanical knee pain that develops gradually, and worsens with prolonged walking or standing
  • Morning stiffness and/or swelling

Treatments may include:

  • Exercise to help stabilise joints by maintaining the strength of muscles and ligaments
  • Medications:
    • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness in osteoarthritis
    • Direct steroid injection into the joint to relieve pain and swelling
  • Physiotherapy exercises to stabilise the joint

Knee replacement surgery may be considered in the following situations:

  • If arthritis limits the patient’s everyday activities such as walking and bending
  • If pain continues while resting
  • If stiffness limits the patient’s ability to move or lift the leg
  • If non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) bring little pain relief

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