Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease is one of the most common causes of knee pain. More than 85% of people above the age of 65 have knee osteoarthritis. Some people suffer from knee arthritis at a much younger age.
The knee joint comprises of three bones. They are thigh bone, femur, shin bone, tibia, and kneecap which is also known as patella. The ends of the bones are protected by a rubbery cushion called cartilage.
Cartilage does a wonderful job of absorbing the impact of walking, running, and jumping. Unfortunately, it has very poor blood supply and does not heal itself very well when damaged. Over time, cartilage wears away like treads on a tire.
Causes of Arthritis
Why some people suffer from arthritis at a much younger age than others can be a difficult question to answer. Anything that places more repetitive stress on cartilage makes it wear away more quickly. Obesity places a lot of stress on knee as well as jobs and lifestyle requiring a great deal of walking or climbing. A traumatic injury to knee can accelerate degeneration of cartilage. Genetics may be plays a role as well. As the cartilage wears away, the bone underneath begins to get damaged. This causes pain, especially with weightbearing, climbing flight of stairs, or getting up from a seated position. Physicians often recognize arthritis through x-rays. The space between bones that is normally occupied by cartilage becomes narrowed due to cartilage wearing away.
As bone underneath is damaged, formation of cysts and bone spurs occur. Without smooth surface of healthy cartilage, knee begins to grind and becomes stiff.
As knee becomes irritated, it swells. Sometimes, the swelling gets excessive filling knee with fluid. This condition is called knee effusion. Effusion can add to normal arthritic pain by building pressure inside knee. This can be very painful and makes it difficult to bend knee.
If here is a large effusion present, the fluid is able to be tapped. This procedure is known as knee aspiration. People who have large effusion when aspirated generally get instant relief.
Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Treatment is dependent on severity. Early arthritis can be successfully treated with antiinflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen and diligent exercise. Injecting steroids into knee can be very effective in relieving pain.
Many people refer to this as cortisone injection. A series of hyaluronic acid injections can lubricate knee like motor oil and provide relief. These injections are made by several different manufactures and have different brand names. If knee osteoarthritis worsens, antiinflammatories, physical therapy, and injections become ineffective and that is the time when surgical options are considered. Knee arthroscopy or knee scope may provide temporary relief by cleaning knee up on inside part of knee. There are cameras inserted through a small incision. An instrument such as shaver is inserted through another small incision. The damaged cartilage can be debrided and loose cartilage is able to be removed.
Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery may be necessary in cases of severe arthritis. An incision is made lengthwise down front of knee. The patella is pulled out of way to expose knee joint. The arthritic surfaces of bone are removed. Metal implants then are cemented to bone. A plastic spacer is placed between them. The knee is then closed and dressed.
Following knee replacement surgery, physical therapy is beneficial to return knee to its full range of motion. Many surgeons allow their patients to walk the after surgery. Knee replacement surgery has been proved to be effective and is generally safe.