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What Is Knee Osteoarthritis and What Causes It?

Osteoarthritis or wear-and-tear arthritis is a common situation that occurs when the intra-joint cushioning, called the cartilage, begins to wear away. The result of the condition is the bones of your joints rub against each other more closely, and the shock-absorbing advantages of the cartilage are not realized.

The constant rubbing action between joints results in swelling, pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Sometimes, the condition may also result in bone spurs, which are projections that emerge on the edge of the bone.

More often than not, osteoarthritis is associated with increasing age. But the condition may also emerge in young adults. Some individuals experience osteoarthritis as a hereditary manifestation, while others may develop it as a result of an infection or injury or being obese.

Gender is also an important factor to consider in diagnosing the condition. Women aged 55 years and above are more prone to knee osteoarthritis than men. Athletes like tennis players, soccer players, and runners stand at a high risk of developing knee osteoarthritis owing to repeated injuries. People with metabolic disorders and rheumatoid arthritis are also highly likely to develop the condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis

The diagnosis of the condition starts with a physical examination by a medical practitioner. X-rays show the damage caused to the cartilage and bone or the emergence of bone spurs. Your doctor may also ask you to get an MRI scan, which reveals additional damage to other joint tissues.

The following are some of the treatment options available for people with knee osteoarthritis:

Exercises – Since the condition is weight-related in most cases, certain weight-reducing and stretching exercises can reduce knee pain and improve joint flexibility and mobility.

Acupuncture – This traditional Chinese method involves the insertion of sharp needles at specific points on your body to treat knee pain.

Medications – Certain anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers to treat knee osteoarthritis include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen. You should, however, consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.

Injections – In extreme cases, you may be prescribed pain-relieving injections of hyaluronic acid or corticosteroids in your knee. These steroid-based injections have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and increase the mobility of your joints.

Occupational and Physical Therapy – In case the condition is rendering you incapable of performing routine tasks, you may require occupational or physical therapy. You can consult a professional physiotherapist who will teach you how to increase the flexibility of your joints and strengthen your muscles.

Specific Devices – Certain devices are designed specifically for treating knee osteoarthritis. These devices are called braces and are usually of two types: “support” brace which support the entire knee and “unloader” braces, which take the weight off the affected part of the knee.

Surgery – Lastly, you might have to go for surgery if all other treatment options have failed to alleviate the condition. Arthroplasty, arthroscopy, and osteotomy are few surgical options available to treat knee osteoarthritis.

No matter what, you should ensure that your medical practitioner is qualified to treat your condition, and you follow his advice closely to avoid further complications.

Contact Our Office

Knee problems that go untreated can lead to serious, irreversible issues that can adversely impact your life. If you have a problem or you feel as if you do, then you should consult an experienced doctor who can help. Contact Advanced Spine and Orthopedics to schedule your consultation with Dr. Kevin James today!