Osteoarthritis is a common condition in which the cartilage between the joints begins to wear away. This allows the bones to rub against each other with less cushioning, resulting in pain, stiffness, swelling, reduced mobility, and in some cases, bone spurs. Osteoarthritis can occur in people of any age, but it is most common in people over 45. It is also more common in women than men.
Causes of osteoarthritis of the knee
Almost everyone will develop osteoarthritis to some degree, but several factors increase the risk.
- Age. As people age, the ability of their cartilage to heal decreases.
- Genetics. People may have genetic mutations that increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis, or they may inherit abnormalities in the joint that raise the risk.
- Obesity. Being overweight puts more pressure on all of the joints in the body, particularly the knees.
- Athletics. People who participate in athletic activities such as running, tennis, or soccer may be more likely to develop osteoarthritis. (However, moderate exercise can strengthen the joints and lower the risk.)
- Repetitive stress injuries. People with jobs that require a lot of heavy lifting, squatting, or kneeling have a higher risk of osteoarthritis because of the constant pressure on their joints.
- Other conditions. People with certain illnesses and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain metabolic disorders experience a higher risk of osteoarthritis.
Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee
The primary goals of treatment are to relieve pain and restore mobility. Often, losing weight – even a small amount – is enough to reduce pain significantly. Specific exercises can also help. In the meantime, pain-relieving medications (either over-the-counter or prescribed) can be used to provide relief.
In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be helpful. There are also corrective devices such as support braces that take some of the pressure off the knees. Physical therapy is useful in many cases as well. When the above conservative measures are not sufficient, surgery may be suggested.
Tips for Managing Osteoarthritis Knee Pain
If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, there are several things you can do to manage your pain and feel better on a daily basis. With your healthcare provider’s go-ahead, try:
- Low-impact exercise. Walking, swimming and biking are great for people with osteoarthritis because they help build strength without putting undue pressure on the knees. Avoid high-impact activities such as running and tennis.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds is one of the most important things you can do to improve your condition.
- Wear the right shoes. Look for flexible shoes that mimic the foot’s natural motion.
- Take medications as recommended or prescribed. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be extremely effective at relieving osteoarthritis pain. So can injections, hot and cold therapy, and other measures; discuss these with your doctor and adhere to the plan.
- See your doctor if your symptoms worsen. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a chronic condition. If you experience worsening pain, it could mean that the disease is progressing. Your treatment plan might need to be adjusted.
If you are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis or other types of joint pain, contact Redefine Healthcare for a consultation.