This is a degenerative type of arthritis and is a common condition that many people develop as they age. It is the result of a gradual wearing away of the cartilage in the knee joint. As this progresses, the joint space between the bones reduces and in advanced cases will result in bone rubbing on bone. This causes pain, stiffness and reduced mobility.
Normal knee joint vs. Knee joint with osteoarthritis
Risk Factors for Knee Osteoarthritis
- Increasing age
- Previous injury or trauma to the knee joint
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Gender – Postmenopausal women are at increased risk compared to men.
- Increased weight
- Gout or history of inflammatory arthritis
- Structural or developmental abnormalities
- Certain metabolic diseases – including diabetes and haemochromatosis
Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis
- Pain in the knee joint, which may be aggravated with activity
- Stiffness in the knee joint
- Decreased range of motion
- Tenderness around the knee joint
- Loss of smooth joint motion, knee may stick, lock, click, snap or have a grinding sensation.
- Weakness or buckling of the knee.
Diagnosis of Knee Osteoarthritis
Your doctor or surgeon will take a history, conduct a physical examination and likely order an x-ray.
X-rays of an arthritic knee may show joint space narrowing and osteophyte formation (bone spurs), irregularities in the bone surface or sub-cortical cysts. X-ray is the most common modality used, however in certain cases CT or MRI scans may also be conducted.
X-ray of a normal knee (top) vs. osteoarthritic knee (below)
Management of Knee Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is not reversible and will progress. Treatment options are categorised into nonsurgical and surgical. Nonsurgical treatments may help reduce the rate of progression. If the pain is severe and quality of life is significantly affected – then surgery will be the next step in management.
- Activity modifications - reducing activities that may aggravate symptoms, this generally includes high impact exercises, running and jumping.
- Exercise – these should be low impact activities such as water exercise or strengthening exercises.
- Lifestyle modifications – weight loss can reduce the load and stress on the knee joint.
- Medications, such as simple pain relief may be used.
- Walking aids
Knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty is a procedure which replaces the damaged knee joint with an artificial implant.
X-ray post knee replacement surgery
These implants have been in use for many decades and are monitored closely for any poor performing designs and early failures so that patients can feel reassured that the implants utilised today are of the highest quality and safety standards.
If you have exhausted your nonoperative management and are now considering surgery, please contact us and book an appointment to discuss this further.