What is Knee Osteoarthritis? Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
What is Knee Osteoarthritis?Also known as wear-and-tear arthritis, Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between joints is worn down. Without the cartilage to provide a cushion, the bones rub against each other and cause pain. It becomes hard to move as the joints become stiff and swollen, and simple, everyday tasks are hampered significantly. Knee Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, and it usually occurs with age.
Dr Andrew Quoc Dutton is a Harvard fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon practising at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore. He has subspecialty interests in arthroscopic/keyhole surgeries, sports injuries, knee replacements, and cartilage regeneration. Get assessed today to find the right treatment for degenerative diseases of the knees.
Frequently Asked Questions on Knee Osteoarthritis
Most people develop Osteoarthritis to some extent as they get older because aging cartilage becomes less able to repair itself. Unfortunately, some people start to have it when they’re relatively younger because of certain factors such as heredity and excess weight. Women are also more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than men after turning 55.
Athletes who run or play tennis or football also have an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis, which is why they should take extra care of their knees. This also goes for people whose work involves a lot of squatting or kneeling, or requires them to pick up and carry objects weighing about 25kg and up.
Non-surgical options for treating knee osteoarthritis include anti-inflammatory and pain medications which may include analgesics, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen. A research article reports that naproxen is effective in treating knee osteoarthritis.
For severe symptoms, COX-2 inhibitors, which are a stronger kind of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS, may be prescribed. Hyaluronic acid or corticosteroids may also be injected into the knee. There are also topical analgesics and creams that may be used, and supplements such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine which may be taken.
And while it doesn’t actually address the cause of the pain, a warm compress can help to loosen a stiff knee and ease movement. Taping your knee can also help ease pain, but a surgeon or physical therapist must be consulted about the correct way to tape it.
You may also wear a brace that either helps to support your knee or redistribute the weight that your knee has to carry. In relation to this, losing weight likewise helps to reduce knee pain. Using a cane also helps to reduce weight on the knee, and placing cushioned inserts in your shoes reduces pressure on the knee while walking.
Exercise and physical therapy can also help increase your knee’s flexibility, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and reduce pain, making it easier for you to move around. As a widely used remedy for knee osteoarthritis, physical therapy has been shown to help patients with pain and mobility.
High-impact activities such as jogging will have to be avoided to avoid making the pain worse. Icing the knee after these activities for 15 to 20 minutes can help reduce swelling.
When non-surgical options offer little or no relief, you might have recourse to surgery for treating knee osteoarthritis. Surgical alternatives include Knee Replacement, Knee Arthroscopy, and osteotomy.
Knee replacement involves substituting the damaged parts of the knee with prostheses and is usually recommended to patients whose osteoarthritis is severe and who are more than 50 years old.
For patients aged 55 and below, the preferred procedure may be arthroscopy, which is done using a small camera inserted through small incisions in the knee. Arthroscopic Lavage is a procedure where loose pieces of tissue and bone in the knee are washed out.
In osteotomy, the shape of the bones in the knee is adjusted to enhance overall knee alignment. This procedure is used if damage is mainly in one part of the knee.
Pain and anti-inflammatory medications that are readily available at your local pharmacy should not be taken for longer than 10 days without instructions from the surgeon, because doing so may increase the risk of side effects. Stomach problems can arise from taking pain medications like ibuprofen and naproxen, while heart problems may be caused by COX-2 inhibitors.
If hyaluronic acid has been injected into the knee, there’s also the possibility of the acid breaking down within the knee. Injected corticosteroids might also damage the knee cartilage.
With knee replacement, it’s possible for the prosthesis to wear out over time, which means the prosthesis itself will have to be replaced when the time comes. The effects of an osteotomy are also not permanent, which means you might need surgery again down the line.
When the surgeon examines you for knee osteoarthritis, he will take note of your medical history as well as your symptoms. Let the surgeon know about anything that aggravates or alleviates your Knee Pain, as well as whether any of your relatives have ever had arthritis. It might help to write all of this down in list form along with any questions you might have for the surgeon.
You may also have to have X-rays or MRI scans done, as well as blood tests to confirm whether your pain is indeed caused by Osteoarthritis or another condition.
The recovery period following surgical treatments for knee osteoarthritis depends on the kind of surgery done. The initial recovery period after knee replacement surgery usually lasts for four to six weeks, with full recovery lasting from a few months to a full year. Jogging and other high-impact activities should be avoided to reduce wear and tear on newly implanted prostheses.
A complete recovery from knee osteotomy can also take months up to a whole year, and patients have to commit to a physical therapy programme. The surgeon may advise you to undergo physical therapy to help you regain your range of motion and strengthen your knee. Wear the knee brace that may be given you and use a cane or crutches as recommended.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right. Don’t just brush it off and risk the chance of compromising your movement and interupting your daily activities. Get it checked today for the right intervention the soonest possible time. Book your appointment with Dr. Dutton, here.
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