Joint swelling, stiffness, and pain are some of the main symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. The discomfort can become debilitating, especially when left untreated. In general, osteoarthritis can cause intense aches and pains, but having it in the knee is especially difficult because the knee is a weight-bearing joint that must sustain your entire body weight in order to move. Add problems with the knee joint, such as osteoarthritis, on top of that, and it can make any type of movement extremely difficult and painful.
The key to managing knee osteoarthritis is learning its causes and treatment options. Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions about this condition.
Q: What Causes Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage intended to cushion the place where bones meet becomes damaged or thins out naturally with age. It is the most common type of arthritis. Healthy cartilage is supposed to help absorb any shock or pressure exerted on the knee as you move.
Worn away cartilage can lead to bone-on-bone friction, which causes discomfort when moving and bending the knee joint. This damage from knee osteoarthritis can occur as the result of:
- Natural wear and tear as you grow old
- Previous and current knee injuries
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Being overweight or obese
- Overusing the knees with sports or other physically demanding activities
- Bone abnormalities, such as knocked knees and crooked bones
- Jobs that stress the knee joint, such as lifting heavy objects, or regularly squatting or kneeling
- Pre-existing illnesses, like metabolic disorders and rheumatoid arthritis
Q: Who Gets Knee Osteoarthritis?
People 45 and older have an increased risk of being diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 32.5 million Americans have osteoarthritis. This degenerative condition occurs most often at the knee joint. Women also tend to develop the condition more than men.
Q: What Are the Symptoms?
The most common tell-tale signs and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are:
- Pain when moving the knee
- Inflammation around the knee
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting down for extended periods
- Lack of mobility in the knee
- Discomfort when walking, bending down, or using the stairs
- Grinding, creaking, or crackling sounds when moving the knee
- Locking up of the knee joint, which makes it immovable
- Wobbling or buckling in the knees
- Warm feeling in the joint
Q: Does Knee Osteoarthritis Affect Other Body Parts?
Yes. Knee osteoarthritis can cause discomfort in other parts of the body. Specifically, it most often causes weakness at the hip, thigh, and in the calf muscles.
Q: What Are My Treatment Options?
There are several nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available for patients with knee osteoarthritis. In the vast majority of cases, your orthopedic physician will encourage you to try conservative (nonsurgical) treatments before considering surgery.
Nonsurgical options that can help alleviate pain caused by knee osteoarthritis include:
- Over-the-counter pain medication or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Knee braces
- Cortisone steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Orthotics, such as specialized footwear and insoles
- Viscosupplementation injections
- Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) or weight
For more severe cases – such as when the pain becomes difficult to bear and affects your daily life – your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery may also be encouraged if your symptoms don’t go away after physical therapy, medications, or other conservative approaches.
The most common surgical treatments for knee osteoarthritis include:
- Partial knee replacement
- Total knee replacement
- Cartilage grafting, where your orthopedic surgeon will replace gaps in existing cartilage with healthy cartilage from other joints
- Osteotomy to reshape bones for better weight distribution on the knee joint
Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, can cause severe pain, stiffness, and swelling in the knee joint. There are various treatment options for managing it. Nonsurgical solutions are available for mild cases, while surgery can help with severe cases. It’s best to consult an orthopedic surgeon if you observe or experience symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Receiving proper diagnosis can help determine the best treatment plan for you – one that will alleviate your pain and discomfort.
Are you looking for knee osteoarthritis treatment? Dr. Paul Meli and his orthopedic team are passionate about helping patients most appropriately deal with their symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. He is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee and shoulder repair. He also practices sports medicine.
Dr. Meli’s clinic is at the Cypress Creek Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. Call (954) 324-7711 to schedule your appointment or to inquire about our services. You can also submit an online appointment requestnow.