Arthritis is a painful condition that can affect any joint in the body, particularly those most heavily used and prone to wear and tear. One of the joints most impacted by arthritis is the knee, which can result in pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion that can make daily activities very difficult.
There is no cure for knee arthritis yet, but there are some treatments and exercises you can take to reduce the risk, ease your pain and stay active.
Our knees are very complex and requires healthy joints in order to function properly. They are comprised of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
- Bones such as the tibia, fibula, femur, and patella make up the framework of the knee joint and are responsible for maintaining stability and flexibility.
- Muscles that facilitate movement of the joints, primarily the quadriceps and hamstrings.
- The four major ligaments that provide essential stability include the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments.
- The medial and lateral menisci are two thick cartilage discs that absorb shock and act as cushioning between the two bones of the knee joint.
- Tendons attach the muscles of the lower leg to the bones of the knee.
Types, Symptoms and Treatments of Knee Arthritis
Arthritis in knee is an umbrella term used to describe joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness. There are over 100 types of knee arthritis, while the most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, and is especially common among people as they age. It primarily affects the cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones. Over time, this cartilage wears away, which can cause pain and tenderness in the joints.
The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but there are several factors that can increase your risk, such as aging, being overweight, a history of joint injury, and other conditions such as gout. Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men, and in people over the age of 50.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. The affected joint might feel tender to the touch, and the person may experience limited range of motion. Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly, and the pain it causes worsens over time. Besides the physical symptoms, osteoarthritis can also lead to depression and other mental health issues.
Treatments for osteoarthritis can vary. In mild cases, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding activities that put stress on the affected joint can be helpful. Medication, such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, can also be used. Physical therapy, including stretching and exercises to increase joint flexibility, can also be beneficial. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to replace the joint or remove joint tissue that has been severely damaged and has no cartilage left to cushion it.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects joints in the body, particularly the wrists, fingers, ankles, knees, and feet. It is characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints as the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. A combination of factors can cause rheumatoid arthritis, including genetics, periods of stress, and environmental triggers.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis often develop gradually over weeks and months, with common signs and symptoms including pain, swelling, warm or tender joints, stiffness of the joints as well as fatigue, fever, and weight loss. There is no single test to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, but a combination of physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging techniques can help to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medications such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are steps you can take to help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the condition. It is important to stay active, eat a nutritious and balanced diet, try stress-reduction remedies, and discuss your treatment options with your doctor.
Posttraumatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs due to an injury, typically to a joint. It is a form of degenerative arthritis that can affect any joint, but it is most commonly seen in the knee. It is caused when trauma to a joint creates a disruption in the normal function and smooth movement of the joint, leading to damage to the cartilage that cushions the joint. Inflammation then results, followed by progressive joint destruction as the inflammatory process progresses.
Symptoms of posttraumatic arthritis can include pain and stiffness in the joint, swelling, decreased range of motion, bone spurs, and weakness in the muscle around the joint. In some cases, the pain may be worse at night or after activity.
Treatment of posttraumatic arthritis will depend on the degree of damage and the severity of the symptoms. In mild cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy may be recommended to reduce pain and stiffness and improve range of motion. For more severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be used, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary.
In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes can also be helpful in managing posttraumatic arthritis. Exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, can improve range of motion and muscle strength and reduce pain. Weight loss may also help, as it reduces strain on the affected joints. It is important to talk to your doctor about what activities are safe to do and which should be avoided or modified in order to avoid further injury.
Exercises to reduce the risk of knee arthritis
Arthritis in knee can be debilitating, causing pain and reduced mobility. Most of the known causes of knee arthritis cannot be prevented, such us aging, injuries, genes, skeletal abnormalities. Try to maintain a healthy weight and do some suitable exercises can reduce the risk of knee arthritis.
Exercises that involve putting a large amount of pressure on the knee joint should be avoided. This includes contact activities or sports such as running, jumping, and other activities that involve extensive kneeling or squatting. Instead, low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, cycling, and pool activities, can help to improve range of motion without damaging the joint. Gentle stretches and yoga moves may also be beneficial.
Avoid exercises that involve twisting and side-bending movements in the knee joint. These can create unnecessary strain on the joint that can contribute to pain and further damage to the joint. Exercises that keep the knee in extension, such as hamstring stretches, can also help to reduce muscle tightness and reduce the amount of stress placed on the knee joint.
Finally, if exercising causes increased pain in the knee, it is important to stop the activity immediately and seek medical attention. With the guidance of a medical professional, determine the best way to manage your arthritis and design an exercise regimen that is suited to your needs and abilities.
Living with arthritis in knee
Living with arthritis in knee can be very uncomfortable and challenging. Knee arthritis can cause severe pain, stiffness and swelling, making day-to-day activities difficult, including walking and sleeping.
Some strategies to help manage arthritis in knee include: reducing stress on the joint, exercising regularly, using assistive devices such as canes or crutches; and taking medication to reduce pain and inflammation.
It is important to properly stretch and warm up before any physical activity, as this will help prevent stiffness in the knee and reduce the risk of injury. Low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling should be chosen over high-impact activities such as running. It is also important to rest after any physical activity to give the joints time to recover.
Using hot and cold therapy can also help to reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis in knee. Heat therapy can be used before any physical activity to help reduce the muscle tension, while cold therapy can be used after physical activity to reduce inflammation and help relieve the pain.
It is also important to be mindful of the weight and stress put onto the knee joints. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the pressure on the joints and lessen the symptoms of knee arthritis.
Finally, stay in close contact with a physician to ensure the condition does not worsen. If uncomfortable symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical advice from a reliable source. With the right guidance and strategies, living with arthritis in knee can be easier and more manageable.