Arthritis of the Knee
As a weight-bearing joint, the knee is highly susceptible to arthritis. The most common type that affects the knee is osteoarthritis, a progressive, degenerative disease in which joint cartilage gradually wears away. It typically affects middle-aged and elderly people.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory form of the disease that destroys the joint cartilage. It can occur at any age and usually affects both knees. Post-traumatic arthritis develops following an injury to the knee. Similar to osteoarthritis, it may develop years after a fracture, ligament injury, or meniscus tear.
Symptoms of Knee Arthritis
While the pain of arthritis usually develops gradually, it can also come on suddenly. Your joint may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to bend or straighten your knee. The pain and swelling tends to be worse in the morning or after a lengthy period of inactivity.
Arthritic pain may also increase after activities such as walking, kneeling, or climbing stairs, often causing a feeling of weakness in the knee that results in the knee locking up or buckling. Many people also report that changes in the weather increase their pain.
The orthopedic doctors at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio are experts at diagnosing and treating knee arthritis. The condition may be treated conservatively until the pain becomes so severe that surgery is required.
Nonsurgical measures are used to treat knee arthritis in its early stages. Your doctor might recommend over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications as well as bone health supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
Other options include steroid injections to reduce the inflammation or viscosupplementation, a series of hyaluronic acid injections to restore the cushioning and lubricating properties of normal joint fluid.
In addition, lifestyle modifications such as losing weight, switching from high-impact to low-impact activities, and strengthening and stretching exercises, can help reduce the stress on your knee joint.
If your arthritis doesn’t respond to nonoperative treatments, there are several surgical options your doctor may recommend:
- Arthroscopic surgery enables your orthopedic surgeon to remove any debris or repair torn cartilage inside the joint that might be exacerbating your condition.
- If an impact injury changes the alignment of your knee, this can cause the cartilage to wear away faster. Your surgeon can perform an osteotomy to improve the alignment of the knee joint.
- A total or partial knee arthroplasty replaces the damaged part(s) of your knee joint with a metal and plastic implant to relieve pain and restore function.
If you are suffering from knee arthritis, call the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio for an appointment with one of our orthopedists. We can be reached at (210) 692-7400 or you can request an appointment online.