Arthritis in the Knee
Arthritis is basically an inflammation of one or more joints in the body. It is characterized by stiffness, swelling and pain as its primary symptoms. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body but it is especially common in the knee. Arthritis in the knee can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis of the knee and other arthritis conditions. The knee is the largest joint in the body where the bones of the upper and lower legs meet and the end where they touch is covered with a smooth and slippery substance known as the articular cartilage which cushions and protects the knee while bending or straightening the knee. It acts as a hinge thus allowing a person to walk, jump, squat and sit therefore, an affected person suffers a lot as it becomes hard for him or her to perform many everyday activities.
Types of Arthritis
There are over 100 forms of arthritis but the major types that usually affect the knee are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and posttraumatic arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic, autoimmune disease which affects multiple joints all through the body including the knee. When affected, the synovial membrane covering the knee joint swells resulting to stiffness and knee pain. Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common form that affects the knee, It is a degenerative type of arthritis that results in wear and tear of the cartilage causing pain that worsens overtime. Posttraumatic arthritis develops after a knee injury such as a broken bone that can damage the joint surface causing instability and wearing of the knee joint that can develop into arthritis later in life.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis of knee arthritis starts with a medical history followed by a physical exam. The doctor may ask for lab tests as well as imaging tests to confirm or make a diagnosis depending on the findings of the exam and history. After diagnosis, there are three top treatment options for knee arthritis, namely nonsurgical treatment, surgical treatment and use of medication. It is important to note that arthritis has no cure but the treatment only help to ease the pain and disability that results.
Nonsurgical arthritis treatment includes a range of options that include lifestyle modifications that can help slowdown arthritis progress such as avoiding stairs and losing weight to avoiding aggressive exercises such as running to less aggressive ones like swimming to reduce stress on the knees. Use of assistive devices such as a cane, wearing a brace or knee sleeve and wearing shock absorbing shoes can also be helpful. Other options can include applying ice, heat or pain relieving creams and ointments to reduce pain.
Surgical treatment is usually recommended when the arthritis causes disability or nonsurgical treatment proves non effective. There are various surgical procedures that can be used such as cartilage grafting whereby normal cartilage from a different part of the body is used to replace the damaged cartilage on the knee, there is arthroscopy, synovectomy where damaged joint lining is removed or total or partial knee replacement using metal or plastic joint surfaces.
Use of medication is helpful when treating knee arthritis, though people respond differently on different medication, so the doctor must work closely with the patients to determine the dosages and medications that are effective and also safe for them.