About the disease
Knee arthritis is an inflammation, when cartilage of the knee wears off and joint bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain. This condition is very common, most prevalent in people over 45 years of age. According to the National Health Interview Survey, only in 2012 more than 51 million people were diagnosed with knee arthritis. There are two major types of this disease: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is most often caused by aging, genetic predisposition or trauma. It develops quite gradually and is less painful than rheumatoid arthritis, which can attack several joints in different parts of the body. It is manifested by knee swelling and by overall worsening of immune system of the patient, as rheumatoid arthritis is most often an autoimmune disease.
- Severe pain in the joints
- Difficulty walking
- Swelling in the knee
- Bone spurs
- Problems with going down the stairs
- Stiffness in the joints
- Knee can produce grinding noise during movement
- Pain in the knee is increased with rain and other weather changes
Knee arthritis is more common in women than in men. Professional athletes and people who lift heavy weights professionally are in the bigger risk of developing knee arthritis in future.
- General physical examination is usually the first diagnostic method for arthritis if a person experiences its symptoms. During general examination doctor will inspect the knee for the presence of swelling and bone spurs. Patient may also be required to bend knee in several positions to see which position causes the most pain.
- X-Ray of the knee is used to get the detailed image of the knee cartilage and see if there is any bone damage.
- MRI is usually used as X-Ray image is not clear enough and the type of arthritis still needs to be determined.
- Conservative treatment includes prescription of anti- inflammatory drugs, injections of steroids and wearing braces, which provide support for the knee and take away the extra load from it. Nevertheless, if arthritis is progressive, you will most probably need the surgery to eliminate the problem.
- Arthroscopic or open surgery and transplantation of cartilage are often combined together. During arthroscopy surgeon removes the damaged cartilage through small incisions and then metal or plastic cartilage is inserted into the knee.
- Total knee replacement is used in patients over 55 years old. During this procedure, surgeon replaces not only the damaged cartilage, but also the affected joints and entire knee. Modern medicine allows doctors to avoid complications, which can arise after such surgery.
Overall, knee arthritis surgery has good prognosis and patient is able to retain walking function for more than 20 years on average.