[Last Edited: 08/10/20]
What is knee arthritis?
Knee arthritis is an age-related degenerative condition that can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving and using knee joints freely. The smooth surfaces of the cartilage gradually become rougher and thinner and the bone underneath then takes more strain and becomes painful. It is more common as we age and the knees are generally affected worse as they are weight-bearing joints and thus take the most force overtime.
Many of us are familiar with the term arthritis and many of you may be living with it on a daily basis. Let's dig a little deeper into what this diagnosis means.
Arthritis is a general term that refers to the age-related and degenerative changes, primarily to joints but also changes to cartilage, soft tissue, muscles and tendons. The smooth surfaces of the cartilage gradually become rougher and thinner and the bone underneath then takes more strain, as it attempts to repair the damage this can often result in more bone growth, changing the knee's shape and appearance. It is more common as we age and affects weight-bearing joints and the joints that take the most force overtime.
Possible Risk Factors
There are several factors that can increase your risk of osteoarthritis:
- If you are over 40 your muscles might have become weaker, your body is generally less able to heal itself and joints can gradually wear out over time
- Being female – osteoarthritis (OA) is more common and more severe in women
- Being overweight – this increases the chances of developing osteoarthritis and of it becoming gradually worse as the joints have to take more pressure and impact
- You’ve had a joint injury, for example, a torn knee meniscus
- You've had an operation on your joint, for example, a meniscectomy (to remove damaged cartilage) or repairs to your crucial ligaments, or wiring after a fracture
- You do a hard, repetitive activity or a physically demanding job, for example, farming or mining
This diagram is showing the stages of knee osteoarthritis, throughout all 4 stages it is possible to experience symptoms of pain and swelling as well as hearing clicking noises from the knee. It is also possible to NOT have any symptoms too. All these symptoms need to be looked at together and if you've had an x-ray this can help to 'stage' the OA.
Arthritis can be affected by lack of exercise and repeated injury but keeping the muscles strong and soft tissue flexible can do a lot to offload the joint pressure and alter the symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness. The great news is that you can ensure your joints stay mobile and have the right level of support, this can be started at any time and will benefit any level of arthritis.
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