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Knee Arthritis

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Knee arthritis affects millions of people around the globe. It is a degenerative disease that is occurs in the cartilages lining the knee joint. This condition is very common in women who find it difficult to walk up and down the stairs, slopes or sit in a squatting position and even getting up from the ground.

What is Arthritis of the Knee?

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joint in the body. When it affects the knees, it is referred to as knee arthritis. It leads to swelling, pain, inflammation and limited movement of the connective tissues and knee joint. Arthritis occurs due to the wear and tear of the cartilage around the bone joint.

Arthritis of the knee can occur due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Let us learn about both these conditions that affect the knee joint in short.

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Knee

The chronic inflammatory disorder that usually affects the small joints in the hands and feet is called as Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The condition gradually progresses to larger joints of the elbows, hips and knees. The affected person suffers from swelling, puffy hands, joint pain, fatigue, etc. The swelling of the joints is very painful and the cartilages wear off as the condition progresses. This leads to joint deformity with time. There is no permanent cure for RA, but early treatment helps reduce the damage to the joints and discomfort caused to the patient.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

This is the degenerative joint disease that causes the cartilages between the bones to wear off.The symptoms of osteoarthritis are slow to develop and are similar to RA. The symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee include loss of flexibility of the joint, pain, stiffness, tenderness in the knee, grating sensation when using the knee joint. The degeneration of the cartilage causes the bones to rub together, leading to pain and deformity. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee arthritis.

Causes

The exact cause that leads to knee arthritis is still under debate. Most believe a combination of factors leads to arthtitis in knee. These factors include:

  • Heredity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Joint injury
  • Constant exposure to cold
  • Natural aging process

The cartilage begins to wear off with time and the bones in the knee joints begin to rub each other when one walks. This condition is very common in people who carry out repetitive leg movement. Other conditions that increase the risk of arthritis include:

  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Septic arthritis
  • Flat feet (PesPlanus)

Athletes too are prone to arthritis. Those who play tennis, soccer or take part in long distance running are at risk. Women too are at high risk of developing arthritis.

Diagnosis

Arthritis is diagnosed with the help of X-rays. In rare instances, the doctor may order an MRI scan.

Treatment

Depending on the amount of pain and disability, the doctor will prescribe a treatment for the patient. One has to avoid carrying out activities that worsen the pain. Use of ice pack for 20 to 30 minutes daily will help in reducing the inflammation. Use of anti-inflammatory medications, paracetamol, combined painkillers also helps a lot. The doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers like opiods for severe pain.

Knee braces are helpful in stabilizing the joint. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), can be tried for pain relief. However, it is not of much help in most patients. Severe pain, loss of motility, etc. can be treated with knee replacement surgery.

Knee arthritis is a debilitating condition. The person who suffers from it, knows how it affects their daily routine. If you experience the early symptoms of arthritis, talk to a doctor today. The earlier you seek treatment, the better the chances of keeping the condition under control.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 07, 2015