Knee Osteoarthritis

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Knee Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease where the cartilage in the knee joint wears away. Eventually, bone spurs might begin to form, and the two bone ends start to rub directly against each other. As a result, patients experience pain in the knee.

Knee Osteoarthritis

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Knee Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease where the cartilage in the knee joint wears away. Eventually, bone spurs might begin to form, and the two bone ends start to rub directly against each other. As a result, patients experience pain in the knee.

Causes and Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis 

  • Heavy body weight adds a lot of stress to the joint and predisposed one to osteoarthritis
  • Malalignment of the knee can overload certain parts of the knee, resulting in rapid wear and tear of the joint
  • Previous trauma such as fractures, meniscus tears or ligament tears to the knee can affect the bony alignment and stability of the knee, resulting in early wear and tear on the joint
  • Knee infections can damage the internal structures in the knee, giving rise to premature osteoarthritis.
  • Inflammatory conditions of the knee, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, can cause damage to the cartilage and progress to osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis

The following are the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis:

  • Pain with an activity which improves when you rest
  • Feeling of stiffness in the knee joint, especially in the morning or when trying to start moving
  • Swelling in the knee
  • Loss of full flexibility in the knee

How is it diagnosed?

Firstly, the healthcare practitioner will take your medical history. What follows is a physical examination to aid in identifying symptoms. Imaging and lab tests could be conducted to add more detail.

Physical examination

This includes assessing the knee for swelling, limitations to normal knee movement, pain, as well as alignment.

Imaging tests

X-rays and MRI scans may be performed to help the doctor recommend the appropriate treatment for your condition. 

Knee Osteoarthritis

How is it diagnosed?

Firstly, the healthcare practitioner will take your medical history. What follows is a physical examination to aid in identifying symptoms. Imaging and lab tests could be conducted to add more detail.

Physical examination

This includes assessing the knee for swelling, limitations to normal knee movement, pain, as well as alignment.

Imaging tests

X-rays and MRI scans may be performed to help the doctor recommend the appropriate treatment for your condition. 

Knee Osteoarthritis

Treatment Options

Treatment aims to reduce pain and to improve function in the knee.

Keep in mind that if your condition requires surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon should always educate you on:

  • Risks of the surgery
  • How to prepare for a surgery
  • What will be required for post-op care

Weight loss
Activities like exercise to produce weight loss are encouraged to relieve pressure on the knee.

Physiotherapy
This can help to improve flexibility and pain in the knee.

Intra-articular Injections
Corticosteroids and gel injections of hyaluronic acid are commonly injected into the joint to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Oral medication and supplements
Painkillers and oral anti-inflammatory medication can help with painful flares of osteoarthritis. Joint supplements can also help reduce the level of pain and inflammation in the joint. These include herbal anti-inflammatories or collagen supplementation.
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Joint Preserving Surgery
In early cases of osteoarthritis, we usually try to preserve the joint. These procedures are largely termed ‘joint preserving surgery’, as we try to avoid replacing the knee with an artificial joint. Mild cases may be amenable to cartilage repair. The most commonly done procedure is microfracture, where small holes are drilled into the bone to stimulate healing of the cartilage. This procedure is often augmented with the addition of collagen, hyaluronic acid or bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) over the repair site, to improve the success rates. Where possible, a torn and non-functioning meniscus (shock absorber) is repaired. Underlying bony malalignment may be necessary to protect the knee from further wear and tear.
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Subchondroplasty
In some painful joints which aren’t repairable, subchondroplasty may help to reduce the bone pain of osteoarthritis and hence improve the knee function. Subchondroplasty involves injecting a bone substitute into the painful, damaged parts of the bone around an arthritic joint. With improvements in pain, this procedure can help some patients avoid a total knee replacement.
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Partial (unicompartmental) knee replacement
A partial knee replacement may help if only one compartment of the knee is worn out. This is a smaller operation than a total knee replacement and has a faster recovery time.

Total knee replacement
In severe osteoarthritis, a total knee replacement will remove all the damaged bone and cartilage in the joint and replace it with an artificial joint that is made out of metal and plastic.

Disclaimer

Shoulder | Elbow Orthopaedic Group does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians that are referenced in this article. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her Orthopaedic Surgeon.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

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