Arthritis: Osteoarthritis of the Knee

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Often affecting people in their 50s and 60s, OA is caused when the cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down. Often, the bones rub against each other, causing pain and swelling.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee Symptoms

Osteoarthritis is most common in the joints of the knees, hips, hands, fingers, neck and spine, although it can affect any joint in the body. OA can even occur in the back, and then it’s also known as degenerative disc disease. Osteoarthritis of the knee symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling, especially when getting up in the morning. If your OA is severe, you may feel pain for the entire day, or lose your ability to use the joint. OA gets worse over time as the body grows new bone at an attempt to heal the damage. However, this results in bumps of new bone growth around the joint and the breakdown of cartilage.

In addition to age, other risk factors for osteoarthritis of the knee include:

• Being overweight or obese
• Repetitive stress injuries 
• Rheumatoid arthritis 
• Heredity 
• Gender (women) 

Many individuals will not have symptoms. Others will have quite severe symptoms. If you’re diagnosed with osteoarthritis, your physician will likely refer you to a rheumatologist.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee Treatment

The treatment for individuals varies from simple over-the-counter analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents to prescription-strength anti-inflammatory drugs. OA medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, acetaminophen and pain medications such as opioids. Along with medications to manage your arthritis, lifestyle changes can also help. Before starting off medications, you should consult your general practitioner to make sure there are no contraindications to you utilizing over-the-counter or prescription-strength analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs. While OA can’t be reversed, it can be effectively treated.

An exercise and stretching program can be great for mobility and flexibility. Your rheumatologist may also recommend that you lose weight to reduce the burden on your joints. Even five or ten pounds of weight loss significantly reduces the strain across a weight-bearing joint, and can improve pain and reduce the need for joint replacement in the future.

Talk to your rheumatologist if you'd like more information on osteoarthritis of the knee. 

Visit HealthChoicesFirst.com for more videos and resources on arthritis.

Print this Action Plan and check off items that you want to discuss with your healthcare provider

  • Osteoarthritis is most common in the joints of the knees, hips, hands, fingers, neck and spine, although it can affect any joint in the body.

  • Osteoarthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling in joints, especially when getting up in the morning. If your OA is severe, you may feel pain for the entire day, or lose your ability to use the joint.

  • Even five or ten pounds of weight loss significantly reduces the strain across a weight-bearing joint, and can improve pain and reduce the need for joint replacement in the future.

  • Many individuals will not have any osteoarthritis symptoms. Others will have quite severe symptoms.

  • OA medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, acetaminophen and pain medications such as opioids.

Adherence:
Adhering to your medications, prescribed exercises or lifestyle changes (such as dietary changes, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol consumption, etc.) is essential to improving health outcomes successfully. Compliance to any prescribed treatment is the number one thing you can do to ensure positive changes and optimal treatment outcomes.

 

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