Knee osteoarthritis pain is a symptom of osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disorder and is the most common form of arthritis. This condition develops as the joins wear down over time and cartilage is removed rubbed away by the bones of the knee. It can affect any join of the body including the hands, hips, lower back, and neck. Osteoarthritis of the knee is most common. There is no cure for OA and the condition will worsen over time. Treatments are available to relieve pain and help those affected to remain active. Since it is a degenerative disease with no cure, osteoarthritis of the knee can eventually cause stiffness severe enough that joint replacement surgery is necessary.
OA occurs when the cartilage that cushions bones at their ends deteriorates with time. As the surface moves from smooth to rough, irritation is caused. As the cartilage wears down completely, bone is left rubbing on bone and causing damage to the joints that is painful. The exact cause of the disease is unknown. Factors that can contribute to the development of OA are heredity, obesity, joint stress or injury, and the aging process. Persons with other disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout have a higher risk of developing OA. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in adults over the age of 40.
Imaging tests such as x-rays and MRIs can be used to reveal a joint that is narrowing in space, which indicates a break down in cartilage. Lab tests can also be performed to determine that the symptoms are not being caused by other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Fluid from the joints can also be removed and analyzed to test for gout or infection. Knee osteoarthritis treatment usually begins with medications. It is important to remember that only the symptoms of the disease can be treated since there is no cure for OA. Anti inflammatory medications are prescribed to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Stronger pain killers can be prescribed for patients with extreme pain. Injections of corticosteroids can also relieve pain in the joint and be an effective knee osteoarthritis treatment for some patients. Injections are administered directly into the join, but the number of injections administered is monitored and limited by the physician.
Alternative treatments include physical therapy and surgery. Shoe inserts or braces can be prescribed to help relieve the amount of pressure placed on the joint and pain. Some devices will immobilize the joint or just support it. Multiple types of devices are available and will be prescribed by a physician. Physical therapy can work to increase range of motion in the joint and strengthen the muscles around it. Surgery can be performed to realign the bones and relieve pain as well as a full joint replacement. Injections of fluids can also be administered directly into the join to replace cartilage and provide cushioning for the knee. Daily activities that add pressure to the knee should be avoided to reduce the risk for knee osteoarthritis pain.