According to the Arthritis Foundation, between 5.9% and 13.5% of men ages 45 and up have experienced symptoms of knee osteoarthritis in the U.S. with 7.2% and 18.7% in women. Although there is no known cure for knee arthritis, there are ways to help treat the symptoms. At OrthoAspen, our elite-grade orthopedic specialists strive to address all conditions with progressive, safe and effective solutions so patients can return to the active mountain lifestyle they love.
Arthritis is a general term covering numerous conditions where the joint surface or cartilage wears out. Arthritis of the knee commonly occurs with aging and use. When the joint surface covered by the smooth articular surface becomes worn down, the cartilage wears out, in turn causing bone ends to rub together. Perhaps not surprisingly, this leads to pain and a number of symptoms, including:
- Stiffness of the knee joint
- Limited range of motion of the knee
- Pain and swelling (especially after periods of rest)
- Pain and swelling that increases with activity and as the day goes on
- Sensation of the knee buckling, sticking or locking
- Feeling of weakness in the knee
- Pain that becomes worse with rainy weather or extreme changes in weather
Much like the symptoms of knee arthritis vary, so do the reasons and causes for developing arthritis of the knee. In addition to the aging process and overuse, here are a few other potential causes of knee arthritis:
- Trauma (fracture)
- Sports-related injury
- Increased stress on the knee (overuse and obesity)
- Infection of the bone
- Connective tissue disorders
- Inactive lifestyle; excess weight is the single most important link between diet and arthritis—being overweight puts an additional burden on the hips, knees, ankles and feet
- Inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis)
To properly diagnose knee arthritis, your OrthoAspen physician will perform a full examination, go over your present health and past medical information and take X-rays. In the arthritic knee, there is an absent joint space that shows on X-ray images—the joint space will appear to be narrow and irregular in outline. Bone spurs or excessive bone can also build up around the edges of the joint.
In an effort to get our patients back to their active lifestyle, we do our best at OrthoAspen to pursue less invasive treatment options with the least downtime.
Non-surgical approaches to treating knee arthritis include:
- Incorporation of less-impactful activities such as swimming, jogging or cycling versus high-impact exercises—running, tennis, etc.
- Implementation of diet and exercise to help lose weight, thus reducing stress to the knee joint
- Introduction of physical therapy to boost range of motion and flexibility
- Application of heat, ice, topical pain-relieving creams and bandages
- Prescribed anti-inflammatories and other medications
In the event that surgery is recommended, your OrthoAspen surgeon will most likely perform an arthroscopy to address the problematic portion of the knee joint.
If you’re concerned that you may be exhibiting symptoms of knee arthritis, our OrthoAspen experts are here to help. Simply click here to schedule a visit or call us any time at 970-544-1289.