Osteoarthritis, is a common cause of knee pain. It occurs when cartilage which protects the bones degenerates. The pain comes on gradually and often causes stiffness and sometimes swelling.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is common in people over 50 years of age, in particular in women. It can affect either one or both sides of the knee joint however it occurs more commonly on the inner aspect of the knee.
• Pain after intense activity or inactivity
• Stiffness that fades with exercise
• Stiffness that is worse in the morning
• Difficulty bending or straightening the knee
• Feeling that your knee is weak or buckling
• A sense of catching, popping, or grinding
Causes of osteoarthritis include a history of acute injury to the medial knee, for example, meniscal or ligament trauma, prolonged and excessive use of the knee joint.
Previous fractures at the site of the knee joint, obesity and genetic factors can all play a role in the development of osteoarthritis.
Three bones meet at the knee joint. Covering the ends of these bones is cartilage, a strong, smooth, rubbery substance that allows the bones to glide over one another when you bend or straighten your knee. The cartilage surfaces are coated by a thin film of lubricating fluid, known as synovial fluid.
Osteoarthritis, is caused by a gradual breakdown of cartilage. As the cartilage erodes, the bones ultimately rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness
As yet there is no cure for arthritis. However, a number of treatments can be put in place to slow the progression of the disease.
NSAID’s– Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as ibuprofen can provide some temporary pain relief.
Weight loss can help as obesity is associated with the onset of osteoarthritis and can have a significant effect on slowing the disease progression.
Exercise programs can help to maintain healthy cartilage and range of motion of the joint. In addition, keeping the attaching muscles and tendons conditioned and strong will aid in the joint’s stability.
If exercising is difficult, hydrotherapy may be useful to reduce the stress on the joints.
Muscle relaxants are usually administered in low doses and can relieve pain that arises from muscles strained in an attempt to support osteoarthritic joints.
Hot and cold treatments applied to the knee can help with relief from pain and inflammation after exercise.
A viscosupplement can be administered as an injection by a clinician. This substance helps to lubricate the knee joint and can decrease the amount of inflammation.
Knee Replacement operations can be undertaken in extreme cases, both half and total knee replacements are available.
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