Arthritis in the knee is a common problem among people over the age of 45. However, this joint disease can affect young people too if they have an injury or are overweight.
The most common form of arthritis in the knee is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective cartilage around the bones wears away.
This is why it is sometimes referred to as a “wear and tear” kind of arthritis.
This type of knee arthritis is commonly linked to joint deformity like bowed legs and knocked knees.
This is because when the bones of the joints start to rub against each other it reduces the ability for you to fully bend or straighten the knee.
If the bones continue to rub together bone spurs will develop and eventually start causing chronic pain and limiting your movements.
Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis
Other symptoms of knee osteoarthritis besides knee pain and joint deformity includes:
- The joints in your knees feel stiff, especially when you first wake up in the morning.
- Whenever you apply a little pressure to your knee it feels abnormally tender.
- When you try to use your joints it feels like they’re grating together. You may also hear the joints in your knees popping.
- Finally, you may start to notice some swelling around your knees as your osteoarthritis continues to worsen.
Knee Osteoarthritis Causes
The main cause of knee osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in your joints, which gradually leads to joint damage over time.
Other causes of knee osteoarthritis includes:
- Injury or trauma around the knee area.
- Obesity or being overweight can also contribute to the development of arthritis in the knee.
- Diabetes is another cause of knee osteoarthritis because it affects the inflammatory response in the body.
- Reduced estrogen levels can lead to osteoarthritis in the knee because this hormone is essential for maintaining a healthy cartilage level within the bones.
- Genetics definitely play a role in the development of knee osteoarthritis. If you have a family history of bone diseases you are more likely to have osteoarthritis as you get older.
Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment
When it comes to treatments for knee osteoarthritis there are a variety of options to choose from.
The first option are medications often used to treat symptoms like chronic pain and tenderness in the knees.
Medications often used for knee osteoarthritis includes:
- Acetaminophen – This drug is usually prescribed for people with mild osteoarthritis pain.
- NSAIDs – Full name for this osteoarthritis medication is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which is primarily used to provide temporary relief from the pain in the knee. Some common NSAIDs includes Advil, Motrin, and ibuprofen.
Other than medications there are exercises you can perform regularly to make your muscles around your joints stronger, more flexible, and decrease other painful symptoms.
Some of the best knee osteoarthritis exercises includes:
Leg lifts are one of the best exercises for knee osteoarthritis because it helps strengthen the knees and improve flexibility and balance.
To do leg lifts for treating knee osteoarthritis do the following:
- Stand up straight against a wall.
- Now lift one leg to the side while keeping your toes pointed forward.
- Then lower your leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat this lifting of the leg at least 10 times before switching to the other side and repeating.
Kick-backs are great for knee osteoarthritis because it helps prevent stiffness in the joints and can help strengthen your muscles around your knees.
To do this exercise follow the steps below:
- Stand up straight with your back as straight as possible and your hands rested along your side.
- Now raise one leg and bend your knee so that your heel is moving towards your buttocks.
- Hold this position for a couple seconds. You want to make sure your knees are aligned and your posture is as straight as it can be. Once a couple seconds have passed go ahead and lower the leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise at least 10 times with one leg before switching to the other leg.
Another great exercise for knee osteoarthritis is the clam.
This exercise helps strengthen the joints in your knees by working your glutes.
By working your glutes it will reduce the amount of stress placed on your knees due to the arthritis.
To perform this exercise, do the following:
- First, you’ll need to lay flat on the ground on your side.
- Now bend your knees and hips until they’re aligned with your shoulders and hips. It’s okay to keep your feet close together.
- Next, begin by lifting the top knee up as far as you can and then slowly bring it back down.
- Hold this stretched position for at least 5 seconds before releasing and then switching to the other side.
Try your best to do this for about 10 to 15 reps at least 2 times each day.
For the best results perform these 3 exercises at least 3 times each day to stop symptoms like pain, stiffness, and flexibility in your knee joints.
Surgery for Knee Osteoarthritis
If the more conservative treatment methods above don’t really help at least reduce your symptoms then it may be time to consider surgical options.
Make sure you talk to a doctor or surgeon experienced with knee osteoarthritis before you make a commitment to undergoing a surgical procedure.
The most successful knee osteoarthritis surgery is knee osteotomy, which involves cutting the bone open either below or above the knee, and then taking out or adding a wedge of bone.
Another form of surgery for knee osteoarthritis is joint replacement surgery where your joints that are damaged are taking out and replaced with metal and plastic parts.
Keep in mind that these surgical procedures do come with risks like infections and blood clots.
It’s best to give less invasive treatments like medications and exercises a try first before resorting to the high risk and high costs of surgery.
Knee osteoarthritis is a common problem millions of people around the world experience and want to know how to correct.
If you feel you may have osteoarthritis of the knee visit your doctor and ask for a proper diagnosis.
Your doctor will begin the diagnosis by giving you a physical exam and asking you certain questions like your medical history and the kind of symptoms you’re experiencing.
The doctor may also give you an X-ray to see whether or not you have any cartilage or bone damage in your knees.