What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, is commonly known as wear-and-tear arthritis, is a condition in which the natural cushioning between joints--cartilage—wears away. When this happens, the bones of the joints rub more closely against one more with less of the shock benefits of cartilage. The rubbing results in pain, swelling, stiffness, decreased ability to move, and, sometimes the formation of bone spurs.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
The most common cause of osteoarthritis of the knee is age. Almost everyone will eventually develop some degree of osteoarthritis. However, several factors increase the risk of developing significant arthritis at an earlier age which includes age, weight, heredity, gender, repetitive stress injuries, athletics, and other illnesses.
- Age - The ability of cartilage to heal decreases as a person gets older
- Weight – In very common terms we are aware of a piece of fact that weight increases pressure on all the joints, especially the knees. Moreover, every pound of weight we gain adds 3 to 4 pounds of weight to our knees.
- Heredity – The word itself describes every action which refers to including the genetic mutations that might make a person more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee. It may also be due to inherited abnormalities in the shape of the bones that surround the knee joint.
- Gender – Women aged 55 and older are more likely to develop this disease of the knee than men
- Other illnesses. People with rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common type of arthritis, are also more likely to develop osteoarthritis. People with certain metabolic disorders, such as iron overload or excess growth hormone, also run a higher risk of osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
- pain that increases when you are active, but gets a little better with rest
- feeling of warmth in the joint
- stiffness in the knee, especially in the morning or when you have been sitting for a while
- decrease in mobility of the knee, making it difficult to get in and out of chairs or cars, use the stairs, or walk
- creaking, crackly sound that is heard when the knee moves
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
Your doctor would probably start the diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis will begin with a physical exam. Your doctor will also take your medical history and note any symptoms. Make sure to note what makes the pain worse or better to help your doctor determine if osteoarthritis, or something else, may be causing your pain. Also, find out if anyone else in your family has arthritis. Your doctor may order additional testing, including:
- X-rays, which can show bone and cartilage damage as well as the presence of bone spurs
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
Besides this medical treatment, on the other hand, we do also have the primary goals of testing Osteoarthritis of the knee which include pain-relieving the pain and return mobility. The treatment plan will typically include a combination of the following.
- Regular Exercise
- Pain relievers
- Injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid into the knee – Let’s understand that steroids are highly powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. Hyaluronic acid is normally present in joints as a type of lubricating fluid
- Using devices such as braces – Braces are of 2 types which include unloader braces and support braces. Unloader braces take the weight away from the side of the knee affected by arthritis whereas support braces provide support for the entire knee.
- Physical therapy – This physical therapy teaches you ways to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility in your joints. Professional therapists teach you ways to perform regular, daily activities such as housework with less pain.
- Surgery- As mentioned at the last in the list, when other treatments don’t work, surgery is a good option.
Knee Osteoarthritis is best managed initially by conservative management. Failing this intervention and with positive radiographic evidence of OA surgical options can be considered to reduce pain in the long term and improve quality of life.
Dr. Balakondaiah Koyagura , MS
Orthopedics (Bones & Joint)