Osteoarthritis and osteoarthritis knee pain results from the loss of flexibility in the body’s joints and cartilage. Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is a medical condition that commonly occurs in individuals all over the world. Arthritis is usually age-related. There are different types of arthritis, and some occur more frequently than others. One of the most commonly occurring types of arthritis is knee osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a medical condition resulting from cartilage breakdown in the joints of the body. Cartilage is a supple or flexible tissue that is present in joints all over the body and allows for smooth movement of bones in a joint over each other, especially during movement. Cartilage in the joints degrades and thins with time and repeated body movement. This means osteoarthritis is a chronic and progressive medical condition since it develops over time and not suddenly.1
Types of Osteoarthritis
There are different types of osteoarthritis depending on the location in the body that occurs. Osteoarthritis can occur in any area of the body where there are joints. However, osteoarthritis of the knee, hips, hands, and spine are some of the most common types of arthritis.
What is Osteoarthritis of the Knee?
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a type of osteoarthritis that occurs due to the thinning and breakdown of cartilage in knee joints. As earlier mentioned, cartilage is a body tissue in joints responsible for allowing bones in joints to glide over each other smoothly. When cartilage thins or breaks down, however, it can no longer offer this protective function, resulting in bone damage as bones begin to grate over one another leading to bone damage. This bone damage from osteoarthritis in the knee also causes pain and stiffness, resulting in movement difficulties and impairment.2
According to statistics, knee arthritis is so common that more than 40% of people in the world suffer from this condition.
What Are the Different Stages of Knee Osteoarthritis?
As mentioned earlier, osteoarthritis is a progressive condition, and the same applies to knee arthritis. Knee arthritis occurs over time, and the development of this condition occurs over several different stages. The stages of knee arthritis are as follows:3
Stage 0 (Normal Stage)
Stage 0 is when the knee is still in great condition and functioning “normally.” In this stage, the individual does not experience any discomfort or damage since osteoarthritis in the knee is still pretty much absent.
Stage 1 (Minor Stage)
In stage 1 of osteoarthritis in the knee, the individual begins to exhibit very slight bone spur development. Bone spurs are bone growths that commonly form where bones come in contact with each other in a joint. In this stage, the joint cartilage wear is still pretty slight, so the patient doesn’t feel pain or discomfort.
Stage 2 (Mild Stage)
This is the stage where the patient begins to feel some of the milder symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee, such as discomfort following a long day of running or walking, as well as joint stiffness after a period of inactivity. In this stage, the cartilage still serves as an effective buffer between bones in the joint; however, the bone spurs have grown in size.
Stage 3 (Moderate Stage)
In this stage of knee osteoarthritis, there is noticeable cartilage damage, and the cartilage begins to thin. Patients with stage 3 knee osteoarthritis will begin to experience knee osteoarthritis symptoms such as edema after prolonged periods of motion, along with stiffness after periods of inactivity.
Stage 4 (Severe Stage)
This is the most severe stage of osteoarthritis, and it’s usually characterized by excruciating pain and discomfort. The pain levels in this stage of knee osteoarthritis are pronounced because there is now a much smaller space between the bones of the knee joint, and the cartilage has been almost totally worn out.
Knee Osteoarthritis Causes and Risk Factors
Although the development of knee osteoarthritis is popularly linked with advancement in age, there are several other causes of knee osteoarthritis. Some possible causes of osteoarthritis in the knee include the following:4
- Age: As a person ages, the cartilage begins to lose its healing capacity. As a result, it begins to thin, leading to increased knee stiffness.
- Genetics: This includes genetic changes that could increase a person’s risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. It might also include genetic deviations in the structure of the bones around the knee joint.
- Weight: Weight puts more strain on every joint, especially the knees. You should know that your knees will carry an additional 3 to 4 pounds for every pound you acquire in weight.
- Injuries and illnesses: Damages resulting from repeated stress, either due to the type of work of the patient or from exercise accidents, can cause osteoarthritis. Conditions affecting body metabolic processes can also cause knee osteoarthritis.
- Gender: According to statistics, osteoarthritis of the knee occurs more commonly in women between the ages of 55 and 80.
Signs and Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis
- Loss of motion
- Grating sensation
- Bone spurs
Knee Osteoarthritis Diagnosis and Complications
Early diagnosis of osteoarthritis knee conditions is essential for better treatment results. Details will be discussed below.
How is Knee Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis knee diagnosis usually starts with a comprehensive physical examination by your doctor to determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by knee osteoarthritis or if other conditions are responsible.
Additional Testing in the Diagnosis Process
Your doctor may also recommend additional tests based on the results of your physical examination to aid further confirmation of suspected conditions. Tests recommended include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
- Laboratory tests such as blood tests are also usually prescribed to rule out conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Knee Osteoarthritis Complications
Osteoarthritis is a chronic, progressive condition that doesn’t currently have a cure. Living with osteoarthritis eventually results in the occurrence of several additional complications if it isn’t caught early enough, or properly treated. Some knee osteoarthritis complications include the following:5
- Mobility challenges
- Pain and stiffness
- High blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity resulting from limited mobility
- Joint damage
- Inability to sleep properly
Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment
There are two treatment approaches for knee osteoarthritis treatment: nonsurgical and surgical. These will be discussed below.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
The non-surgical treatment options for knee osteoarthritis are usually used for treating and managing mild to moderate osteoarthritis knee conditions. They include:
- Lifestyle modifications
- Physical therapy, such as exercise, is usually recommended.
- Occupational therapy
- Alternative therapies
Surgical Treatment Options
This approach to treating knee osteoarthritis is used to manage more severe knee osteoarthritis conditions. There are several different types of knee osteoarthritis surgery, which are employed depending on the patient’s specific condition. They include:
- Cartilage grafting
Find Help at J. Flowers Health Institute
Finding help for the effective treatment and management of knee osteoarthritis can be challenging. However, it’s necessary to help mitigate pain and other symptoms that often accompany the condition. As long as you know where to look for treatment, it doesn’t have to be difficult to find the right help.
This is because the quality help you need is precisely what we offer at J. Flowers Health Institute. Reach out to us today if you or a loved one need assistance, and let’s help you deal with knee osteoarthritis and improve your quality of life.