Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. As an orthopaedic surgeon, I can provide you with a guide to knee osteoarthritis to help you understand the condition and its management. Here are the key points:
What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Knee osteoarthritis is a progressive condition where the protective cartilage in the knee joint wears down over time leading to pain, inflammation, and functional limitations.
Causes and Risk Factors
- Age: The risk of developing knee osteoarthritis increases with age.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts more stress on the knee joint and accelerates cartilage degeneration.
- Previous knee injuries: Past injuries, such as ligament tears or fractures, can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to develop knee osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis
- Pain: The primary symptom is knee pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest.
- Stiffness: The knee may feel stiff, especially after periods of inactivity.
- Swelling: Inflammation in the knee joint can cause swelling.
- Reduced range of motion: It may become difficult to fully bend or straighten the knee.
- Joint instability: The knee may feel unstable or give way.
Orthopaedic evaluation: An orthopaedic surgeon will examine your knee, review your medical history, and order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans to assess the extent of joint damage.
- Lifestyle modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight, regular low-impact exercise, and using assistive devices can help manage symptoms.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs may help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can develop an exercise program to improve joint strength and flexibility.
- Injections: Corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections may provide temporary relief of symptoms. Autologous protein solution (APS) injection is effective to alleviate knee osteoarthritis pain for up to 3 years.
- Surgical interventions: In severe cases, surgical options like arthroscopy, osteotomy, or knee replacement may be considered.
- Rehabilitation: Following surgery, a physical therapy program is crucial to regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
- Pain management: Medications and other techniques will be employed to manage pain during the recovery period.
- Maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise, and avoid activities that put excessive stress on the knee joints.
- Protect your knees during physical activities by using appropriate footwear and protective gear.
Remember, this guide is meant to provide general information. It’s important to consult with an orthopaedic surgeon for a personalised assessment and treatment plan based on your specific condition. They will guide you through the most appropriate treatment options to manage your knee osteoarthritis and improve your quality of life.