Knee arthritis can make every step painful. Joint swelling, pain, and stiffness are just some of the symptoms that can occur when a person has this condition.
The knee joint is a hinge joint, so named because of its motion similar to opening and closing a door. The joint consists of three main bones. When two bones meet, each of them is covered with a protective layer of cartilage. Other pieces of cartilage, called menisci, also support the knee. All of these protective pieces of cartilage keep the knee bones from rubbing against each other. If this happens, it can be very painful. The daily demands on the knee and its potential for injury make it a frequent source of arthritic damage. There are different types of arthritis, and it is the type that determines the treatment recommended by the doctor.
- 1 Symptoms of knee arthritis
- 2 Types of knee arthritis
- 3 Common Causes of Knee Arthritis
- 4 How to Relieve Arthritis of the Knee
- 5 Alternative Therapies for Knee Arthritis
- 6 What you must remember
- 7 Other causes of knee pain
Symptoms of knee arthritis
Symptoms commonly linked to arthritis of the knee include:
– crepitus, clicking or cracking of the knee joint during movement.
– pain that seems to be weather-related and gets worse with rain
– a weakness in the knee joint which can cause it to bend.
Warmth and redness of the joint are often symptoms of gouty arthritis, but these symptoms can occur with almost any type of arthritis, depending on the degree of inflammation. Symptoms of knee arthritis usually get worse over time. Symptoms of advanced arthritis can include visible joint deformities and stiffness that makes movement very difficult. However, serious symptoms of knee arthritis can appear suddenly.
Types of knee arthritis
There are over 100 types of arthritis, and some of them are common in the knee.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of knee arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the bones wears down. As the cartilage erodes, the bones in the knee joint begin to rub against each other. This leads to the development of bone spurs at the end of the bones. Bone spurs can be painful and limit a person’s movement.
– Post-traumatic arthritis
Old injuries to the knee and surrounding joints can continue to affect a person and cause post-traumatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that can develop after an injury. The injury causes additional wear and tear on the knee joint, which leads to osteoarthritis. There may be painful swelling in the knee joint.
– Gout arthritis
Gout is a form of arthritis in which uric acid crystals build up in the joints, including the knee joint. Uric acid is a waste product that forms when body tissue breaks down. The crystals are like little needles in the knee joint. They can trigger inflammation, pain, and swelling.
– Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. This condition tricks the body into believing that healthy tissue, such as protective cartilage, is dangerous. Therefore, the immune system destroys and damages these tissues. This can end up destroying the joint. RA can also cause the joint to swell and the bones in the knee to soften.
Common Causes of Knee Arthritis
Each type of knee arthritis has different causes.
Doctors consider osteoarthritis a wear and tear condition because using the knee joint eventually wears down the cartilage. Osteoarthritis usually appears after the age of 50 because it involves overuse.
– Gouty arthritis
Gouty arthritis can have several causes or risk factors. Among these are:
– a family history of gouty arthritis
– be male, as gouty arthritis affects men more often
– obesity, because excess weight leads to an increase in tissues that can be converted into uric acid
– taking certain medications.
Gout often starts in the big toe. A person may also have kidney stones and bumps under the skin.
How to Relieve Arthritis of the Knee
Doctors often treat early signs of arthritis with home care to lessen pain and keep symptoms from getting worse. Over time, a person may need stronger medications or surgery.
Here are some examples of home care for knee arthritis:
– lose weight if necessary
– prioritize low impact exercises over high impact exercises
– applying heat or ice to the knee joint to reduce inflammation
– doing physiotherapy exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve flexibility
– taking over-the-counter pain medication
wearing a knee brace or applying an elastic bandage around the knee.
Alternative Therapies for Knee Arthritis
Some alternative or complementary therapies can also help relieve pain and other symptoms.
Here are some examples:
– Acupuncture: A professional inserts fine needles at specific points on the body.
– Balneotherapy: This involves soaking the knee joint in hot mineral spring water.
– Some people use a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device to relieve pain. The device applies a weak electrical current to certain points on the skin.
What you must remember
There are some things a person with knee arthritis should think about carefully.
Stay active: Stopping all physical activity can lead to muscle stiffness and weakness, as well as a reduced range of motion in the joint.
However, it is important to rest the knee during pain flare-ups and after performing physical exercises.
Other causes of knee pain
Arthritis is not the only cause of knee pain. Some other conditions have similar symptoms.
Here are some examples
– diseases that affect the whole body, such as lupus, or sepsis, a serious infection
– inflammation of the areas surrounding the joint, such as the tendons.
Anyone with persistent knee pain, especially when accompanied by swelling, should see a doctor.