What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Knee?
Osteoarthritis sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis, is a condition where your cartilage the natural cushioning between joints wears away. The knee is one of the most commonly affected areas and osteoarthritis of the knee can result in pain, swelling, stiffness, and a decreased ability to move.
Age is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis as is gender with the number of cases rising in females over the age of 55. However young people can get osteoarthritis too.
Risk Factors For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Beyond age and gender there are other factors that can plan a role in someone’s risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee at an earlier age. These factors include:
- Heredity: May include abnormalities in the knee changing biomechanics placing more stress at specific areas of the knee or genetic mutations making someone more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Injury Or Repetitive Stress: Due to work or activity choices someone may cause more stress to their joint via injury or repetitive loading such as squatting, lifting, kneeling activities.
- Weight: Carrying excess weight places more stress on the knee and subsequently increases someone’s risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES I) indicated that obese women had nearly 4 times the risk of knee OA as compared with non-obese women and for obese men, the risk was nearly 5 times greater.
Treatment For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Once the arthritic process has started sadly it can never be halted or reversed but the rate of progress can be slowed. Commonly there are non surgical and surgical options for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Once all other treatment options have been exhausted total knee replacement (TKR) remains the final step to relieve the pain of arthritis.
It is not recommended that you run on a TKR and there is about a 90% survival rate of TKR hardware lasting 10-15 years after the surgery which is another reason why younger patients with osteoarthritis can be more challenging to manage and need to be realistic about their goals. Total knee replacement works very well in older patients with osteoarthritis however because of the high demands placed on their knees but younger patients a TKR is very much a last resort in this population.
Non Surgical Treatment For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Nonsurgical treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee can improve symptoms typical management may include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication – some patients can use these to good effect safely for a very long time however others will suffer side effects from either short or longer term use.
- Supplements including glucoasmine and fish oil being common options.
- Footwear and bracing options can work for some sufferers to support the joint and improve biomechanics and reduce load on the joint can reduce pain and improve function but these benefits are lost when the brace is not being used.
- Activity modification and targeted exercises – To reduce further loading stress and muscle strengthening can help improve any specific functional loss.
- General exercise and weight management – appropriate exercise has been shown to reduce pain and improve function in patients with early OA and losing weight will also improve symptoms.
Unfortunately beneficial effects of exercise are lost six months after the exercise and training has stopped so it is important with osteoarthritis of the knee management to be consistent and make it a lifestyle change not just a short term focus.
- Injections – Injection of hyaluronic acid and cortisone injections have been used to good effect for short term relief and more typically are used when someone is having an acute flare up of their symptoms rather than used as part of an ongoing management regime.
Surgical Management Of Knee Osteoarthritis
- Surgical management may include an arthroscope / debridement (basically like a clean up and wash out of the joint) a partial or unicompartmental knee replacement and a total knee replacement.
- Surgical treatments can offer a good solution for osteoarthritis of the knee and even allow for a return to some athletic activities.
- Surgical management as mentioned previously is typically engaged only once all other treatment options have failed to achieve a satisfactory result.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance on Osteoarthritis Of The Knee Not Just For The Grey Nomads should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, orthopaedic surgeon or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.