The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is made up of different structures including bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons that work together to provide stability to the knee during movement.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced range of motion. Any joint of the body may be affected by this disease. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. As for knee arthritis, severe arthritis with chronic pain can lead to difficulties in our daily activities, including walking and climbing stairs.
There are different types of inflammations (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis) that can occur in the knees
What is osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is also called degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. It means that the cartilage in the joint has broken down as a result of excessive wear. When knee cartilage is worn away, it becomes rough. The knee joint can be irritated and painful when the bones grind against each other as a consequence of cartilage wear.
Overuse, obesity, or injuries are greatly contribute to the development of knee arthritis. Osteoarthritis is mostly occur after middle age. There is no cure for osteoarthritis of the knee, but symptoms are manageable with the help of weight loss, exercises that strengthening the muscles around the knee, anti-inflammatory medications, injections (steroids) or surgery in case other treatments don’t work.
What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. It affects the joints of the knees. Unfortunately the joint effect is symmetrical which means if one knee is affected, the other is also. It leads to inflammation that thickens the synovium (tissue that lines the inside of joints) which can damage or destroy the bone and cartilage in the joint. It causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Genetic factors, environmental exposures and obesity may increase the risk of the disease which can occur at any age but most cases it appears between the ages of 40 and 60. There is no cure for RA, but remission of the symptoms is possible with treatments that contain medications such as steroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Surgery is recommended when treatments are unable to relieve symptoms.
What is post-traumatic arthritis (PTA)?
Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after serious injuries, such as ligament injury, bone fracture, or tear (meniscus tear). The symptoms of the disease include joint pain, swelling, stiffness and severe pain during walking and going up and down the stairs. The injury from which PTA has developed, may come from different kind of sports – that strain the joint -, fall and vehicle accident. Physical therapy, weight loss, exercises, and anti-inflammatory medications can be parts of the treatment. Surgery suggested in case of ineffective treatments.