Most common in those over 50 years of age, knee arthritis can often occur without an obvious mechanical trigger (recent injury) - however, it is often preceded by historical problems such as damaged meniscus, a maltracking patella, a fracture, or previous knee surgery.
The term knee arthritis literally means 'inflammation of the joint' ('arth'=joint
'itis'=inflammation), however, despite the name it rarely involves any actual inflammation.
Knee arthritis is actually the result of a gradual destruction of the meniscus, or cartilage, in the joint, resulting in exposure of the underlying bones of the femur and tibia.
Symptoms vary, but usually include the some of the following:
- Pain with activity (running, climbing stairs, etc)
- Reduced range of motion
- Stiffness in the knee
- Swelling around the joint
- Local tenderness around the joint
- A feeling that the joint may "give way"
Interestingly, symptoms do not always progress steadily with time, and may fluctuate over time, or indeed with the weather.
Treatment protocols will vary from individual to individual, but could include:
Weight Loss: Excess weight exacerbates the symptoms by placing more weight on the joint
Changes to Activity: Limiting certain activities may be necessary, replacing them with others that are less difficult
Physiotherapy: Strengthening the muscles around the knee joint helps to decrease the strain on the joint
Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDs) can reduce both pain and inflammation
Supplements: Glucosamine is reportedly effective for treating joint pain, and recent research into these supplements supports its effectiveness
In more severe cases, cortisone injections or even surgery may be required.