We put our knees through a lot, and over time, the joints in our knees can become painful, leading to osteoarthritis of the knee, also known as degenerative arthritis of the knee. The condition involves changes that happen to the cartilage in our knees that protect the bones in our joints from rubbing together. When that cartilage begins to break down or becomes damaged, knee pain sets in.
The causes behind degenerative knee disease
Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the most common forms of knee pain seen at OASIS Hospital, and like other forms of arthritis, age is often a factor (however, it can also be a result of injury, weight gain, or simply genetics). The cartilage in our knees weakens as we get older and over time, it doesn’t heal as quickly.
Weight is another factor and is likely a culprit behind the doubling of degenerative knee disease cases since the mid-20th century. Overweight or obese individuals simply put more stress on their joints and this increases the chance of injury to the cartilage in the knee. Moreover, obesity can play a role in the metabolic factor in developing osteoarthritis of the knee.
Similar to a lifetime of use, athletes who put their knees through constant repetitive motion have an increased chance of developing osteoarthritis in their knees. Persons who play soccer or compete in long-distance running should take precautions to reduce their risk of a knee injury that can lead to osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee
Like other forms of arthritis, the most common symptom is pain or stiffness of the knee. This pain may flare up, being more severe at certain times while generally mild at other times.
Other common symptoms:
- Reduced range of motion
- Redness or warmth around the knee
- Popping or crunching noises when bending at the knee
Can degenerative knee disease be prevented?
Because degenerative knee disease is viewed as a chronic condition, taking preventive steps before it sets in can go a long way in keeping osteoarthritis of the knees at bay.
For individuals who are overweight, this means making the proper lifestyle changes to lose weight in order to put less stress on the knees. Participating in low-impact exercise and eating a diet rich in fiber and low in sugar can also help prevent inflammation.
Athletes who put a lot of stress on their knees should focus on building strong muscles in their legs to offer support to their knees, properly stretching before participating in sport, and resisting the pressure play through the pain.
Treating osteoarthritis of the knees
The sooner your physician diagnoses degenerative knee disease, the sooner a plan of action can be taken to prevent it from getting worse. Physical therapy programs will focus on strengthening muscles around the knees to put less pressure on damaged cartilage and joints.
Often, physical therapy will be combined with other anti-inflammatory medications to relieve inflammation of the joints and reduce pain in the knees.
While most people with osteoarthritis of the knees won’t require surgery, if the pain becomes too severe and physical and medicinal treatments don’t help, total knee replacement is an option our physicians and surgeons are experienced in, and it may be the answer for pain in the knees for some.
If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, visit our website to find a physician.