What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints. It causes stiffness and pain, both of which can result in mobility issues.
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is the “wear and tear arthritis.” This is because it breaks down the cartilage of joints. Which can result in numerous issues, as cartilage is the sponge like “shock absorber” of the body. Without it, joints loser their elasticity and become more susceptible to damage. Over time, the damage to the cartilage can impact the surrounding tissue, bone, and synovial fluid.
Generally speaking, osteoarthritis does not occur unless a joint has a previous injury, underlying disorder or experiences excessive stress. As such, while it can occur in any joint in the body, osteoarthritis occurs most frequently in the weight-bearing joints. This includes the spine, knees, and hips. Additionally, it can impact the big toe, neck, fingers and thumb.
Knee osteoarthritis is the most common cause of muscular skeletal pain in the knee joint and can often lead to disability.
What are the SYMPTOMS of knee osteoarthritis?
- Joint pain during activity
- Knee pain from osteoarthritis may be worse later in the day.
- Night pain
- Morning stiffness
- Limited motion
As the cartilage of the knee deteriorates, it can lead to deformity. The outward curve of the knees is commonly referred to as being bow legged. This can also lead to a worsening limp.
Who is at RISK of developing knee osteoarthritis?
Around 350 million people worldwide suffer from arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It impacts approximately 27 million Americans.
Age is a huge factor in the development of osteoarthritis. As we age, our ability to heal and regenerate damaged tissue decreases. Most people over the age of 60 have osteoarthritis. If you live long enough, you will almost certainly develop osteoarthritis!
A history of injuries or knee surgeries increases your likelihood of developing knee osteoarthritis. This means that athletic individuals are at risk of developing osteoarthritis. Athletes are at risk of developing osteoarthritis, especially if they play soccer, tennis or long-distance running. If steps aren’t taken to avoid injury, that could lead to bigger, long-term issues. Despite this risk, osteoarthritis is often associated with obesity. Excessive weight puts extra stress on the joints, which causes more wear and tear over time.
There is a hereditary component to osteoarthritis. If a close relative has osteoarthritis, it means you yourself are at a higher than average risk. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men. Additionally, people with metabolic disorders, excess growth hormone, and/or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
What TREATMENTS are available for knee osteoarthritis?
There are both surgical and non-surgical options for treating your knee osteoarthritis. Before selecting which option you want to explore, you need to meet with your doctor to assess the severity of your osteoarthritis. Depending on how severe your case is, certain treatments may not be an option.
If your case is still relatively minor, then your best non-surgical option is exercise and weight loss. By losing weight, you relieve pressure on your joints. This helps to prevent wear and tear. Additionally, by exercising, you strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee, which also function as shock absorbers. Letting those muscles atrophy from disuse only worsens your pain so, while the stiffness and discomfort caused by knee osteoarthritis may make you want to rest, you need to remain active.
Anti-inflammatory medication can help decrease symptoms as, at its core, arthritis is inflammation of the joints. There are over-the-counter options like aspirin and ibuprofen, as well as prescription strength options like Indocin, daypro, Relafen, Celebrex, lodine, and Mobic. Dosages should be discussed with your doctor since overdoing it with anti-inflammatory medications can stomach irritation, ulceration, and renal damage.
Cortisone injections, which function as direct acting anti-inflammatory medication, can be useful in combatting arthritis flares.
Surgical options for treating knee osteoarthritis include arthroscopy, osteotomy, and joint replacement surgery. Unless you are over 50 years old, joint replacement is likely not an option, as it is reserved for the most severe cases of osteoarthritis. It may need to be repeated later as the artificial joint can wear out too.
San Antonio/New Braunfels is ranked as the 8th fattest city in America. That, unfortunately, means we are at high risk of developing osteoarthritis. If you need knee osteoarthritis treatment in San Antonio, look into getting regenerative medical treatment from the Stem Cell Orthopedic Institute of Texas. Their doctors can use FDA approved stem cell injections to help repair the damage to your knees. Regenerative medicine is a safe away to make the most out of your body’s natural healing processes and avoid major surgery.